Motherhood: A comment about the short clips from class.

I found the variety of films (short clips of films) very interesting. Although they are all common on the theme of mother hood, it is very interesting to see the different representations of motherhood based on race.

What I took from it was the following:

Juno: Has the supportive family- huge relationship with family. Great communication. She talks to her parents about her situation.

Precious: Has the abusive mother; The jealous mother that thinks her “man” is taken away by her daughter; Usually black women are portrayed as strong women but not when it comes to the aspect of motherhood. Her mother needs to be supervised because she can not function properly- NOT AT ALL. It was a very difficult movie to watch.

Making comparisons, it is clear that Juno and the Waitress have more privileges and a better life quality than mothers of color- such as we saw in Precious. Another important aspect to point out from the films is that abortion is an option considered in Juno and the Waitress but it is never mentioned. We never hear the word “abortion”.

An interesting question: How does race come into play?

Waitress: Fairy tale ending.

Knocked up: Funny with a happy ending

Juno: more of a “warning sign” –> No one wants to end up like that.

Precious: a complete monster!

It is true that women have a choice and access to birth control  but it is also true that access to good quality resources depends on race! ]

Final comment: Frozen River gives the aspect of motherhood a complete spin!


Queer Horror- The Beginning: Lesbianism

I find the idea of women being the first ones to introduce homosexuality in film extremely interesting. It makes me question why that is the case. Why women and not men? I believe homosexuality has existed for a long time, and over the years it has become more acceptable by society. In my opinion, it is safe to say and assume that women where the first ones to show homosexuality, although gay men have existed for a long time. According to our classmate’s presentation, lesbianism has been around since the early 70’s, and maybe even prior to that but he 70s was the year it took place in film. It is also safe to claim that women where the first ones to show homosexuality in fim because of the same reason that women have always been considered inferior to men. It all goes back to the view that homosexuality is something negative- an illness that needs a cure. Therefore, since women are looked down upon and considered inferior to men, they are the only ones that “can be” publicly homosexual at the time. Excellent presentation!

You will be tested for your strength, your courage, your intelligence, and your leadership- Whale Rider

I ind this film to be the turning point of all of the other films we have watched. In this film we see Pai’s struggle and suffering the same way we see other women’s in the other films, but it is her character in this film that shows both sides: the struggle, the suffering, the sacrifice, the fighting, and the recompense. After all of that, she succeeds and the story has a happy ending. 

But what does her story mean? The over all story is a story of the past and the present because of the tribe, their history and their beliefs. Pai is the chosen one to be the future of the tribe. In my opinion, Pai being one of the babies that survived her mother’s pregnancy, is already a test, a test from mother nature that shows her straight, since she is the only one that survived. There are many instances in the film that show her strength, courage, intelligence, and leadership. When I think about her character, I am reminded of Martin Luther King- you fight for what you believe until there is a change. Pai was never disrespectful. She was loving and caring, and although she has her moments of weakness (scene with her speech in school, totally heartbroken), she is a over all a strong, courageous, and an intelligent young lady that in the end manages to make a change in the tribe, a change that will ensure the future of her people. I LOVED IT!

Frozen River- Implications of Race

Rai is always being reminded by Lila that she is white. As an audience, this makes us feel that because she is white she is privileged and Lila is not. To some extent this is true, but we can not ignore the fact that Rai is also a victim of society that same way Lila is. Yes she is white, and yes she gets away with less punishment for her crimes, but her white race is not enough for her and her family to live a “normal” life. She is a victim of society the same way Lila is because she is a woman, a single mother, and because she is punished for being pushed to break the law in order to ensure her and her kids’ survival. On top of that, she must take her older son’s complaints for not looking for her husband that abondoned them. The fact that Lila is always reminding everyone that she is white illustrates ignorance. There is ignorance on Rai’s part too. She believes at first that she is not commiting a crime by smuggling immigrants because she believes that there are no borders. Alhough these single mothers are a completely different race and are to some extent ignorant about many things with their identities, they are very common in many ways too. They both have a common goal- survival. They both care dearly about their children and everything that they do is for them. This is a perfect example that illustrates the opposite of what society focuses the most on- race. Race is only one thing of many, that makes us who we are. Race is more like a “label”. We live in a society that is constantly in need of grouping, labeling, and basing every single thing in terms of race ignoring completely the fact that before we are everything we call ourselves and identify with, WE ARE ALL HUMANS.

Cambodian Son-The Power of Art

I liked the film. Although it was sad to hear his story, I really liked the idea of putting his story in film. Film is powerful; Film is a type of art that serves to tell a story, to simbolize, to represent, and to illustrate the creator’s ideas and his/her purpose.

Through the power of art, the director of Cambodian Son, communicates, illustrates, and shares the knowledge of what many people goes through when they go through deportation. In the recent years, deportation has been an issue for many people. To me, this story, like many others about deportation are not a surprise. As a Mexican-American, I know about people that have been deported and banned from the U.S. It seems that people from Mexico are the main target rcently. Therefore, I identify myself with Kosal and his family. War and deportation really do separate families.

Films that portrayed stories like Kosal’s can really make the difference. This film has given Kosal and his family a voice. It creates a sense of community because it unites all of the people that has symphaty towards the effects of wars and deportation, and to those that live it everyday in order to learn, educate others, and spread the word. It might be hard for one person to make a change but when there is an entire community thinking alike, informing themselves about the issues affecting them, and actively having a voice to fight back, that, exactly that is what starts the process of change. This reminded me of a quote from Cesar Chaves current film: “Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.” It also reminds me about the story of the women in Maquilapolis.

Torture in Jail

After watching the documentary in class on Monday, I have previously heard about female sexual abuse within prison.  I was really bothered by this and I was interested in searching more on the topic.

Similarly to the film we watched, I found several similar stories about sexual abuse within prison’s, not just in the U.S. but countries such as Egypt, Syria and Iraq.  What was similar between all of the violence in these countries was that the women were wrongfully taken advantage of by law enforcement in order to gain information or just for their pleasure to embarrass the women, and their families.  With with these sexual acts, there is an aspect of disgrace that sometimes the women cannot even go back to their husbands, because most husbands do not want wives who have been unfaithful and “tainted.”  This is sickening because these women are not at fault here, in these circumstances, it does not matter what criminal acts have been committed, what matters is that they are being wrongfully taken advantage of when they are most vulnerable and have no power.

In the type of world and society we live in today, things like sexual abuse in prisons should not be an issue.  I understand that other countries are still lacking governance and order within themselves, but why is it ever justified to rape and sexually abuse someone? Never.  The answer is never.  This is the 21st century we do not follow “an eye for an eye” governance, nor have we fully followed that.  Hearing about sexual abuse is unfathomable, and the documentary really brought that to light for me.

Women in Struggle

The film we watched in class on Monday was very interesting, and unlike anything I have ever watched before.  I honestly cannot express how it made me feel, or if I was able to take a side on who I agreed with.  The different types of shots that were shown were quite interesting, and I most definitely liked that it was filmed by the women themselves, because it added another layer to the issues and their personal stories.  It felt like they brought me into their home and shared a part of themselves with me.

However, i was a bit confused with the storyline.  I understand that the women went to jail for planting a bomb.  But, it was confusing as to what actually happened, and if they actually followed through with there action.  I know it should have been clear, but it was confusing when one of the women said that they blew themselves up.

It was interesting to say the least, and it was actually heart wrenching when they were talking about being sexually abused and tortured while in jail.  I do not think that those types of behaviors are acceptable, especially by those within law enforcement.  If law enforcement is breaking laws and doing unmoral and unethical things, then who is supposed to keep order within the country?  This is a growing problem within certain countries, because there is a lack of governmental support or order.

The final aspect of the documentary that I liked was when one of the former prisoners was talking about adopting a child.  It the story behind her adoption process was because she was “tainted” and taken advantage of in a sexual manner while in college, that she was not able to have babies.  Some women were even exiled by their husbands because they did not think that they were “pure” anymore, it is sad that these women did not have a choice and the fact that they were exploited is disgusting.


Knowledge is Power in Maquilapolis: City of Factories

They went from being objects of labor to advocates of their own rights. It all started when they decided to become educated about their rights as workers of the abusive factories. I loved how they became experts and did all of the recording for the documentary on their own. I admire these women so much because although I don’t work under their conditions, I am a single mother that works and goes to school full time. It is hard work!

I knew things were bad for women working in those factories but I never imagined how bad. This documentary left me in shock. I couldn’t believe what my ears were hearing. Their living conditions just made me think about my present quality of life, and I am in heaven compared to them. It is film like these that inform our society about the issues affecting the working class and many other minorities, specially women that are their main target. Living and working under those conditions it is just inhumane. Nobody should be under those circumstances and we need more people to show such films and spread the word, in order to reach, help, and support the victims to fight for their rights and their families’.

Women of Brukman

Isaac Istan’s The Women of Brukman follows the workers of Brukman factory as they occupy and run the clothing factory as a cooperative.  When Argentina’s economy collapsed in 2001, the “bosses” of the Brukman factory secretly closed down the business and refused to compensate workers the wages they deserved. Out of necessity, the workers decided to “take back” the factory and run the business themselves. Through working as a cooperative, they discovered a new way to work in which everyone in the group gets paid equally and has equal say in decision-making

Throughout three years of struggle, the women of Brukman collaborated with neighborhood associations and various Labor organizations and parties. The government disagreed with the workers’ self-run business and had attempted to evict them several times. After the third factory eviction, workers and their supporters camped out to protest. Despite the hardship a “cultural event”, as one of the women called it, followed. Seminars, murals, story-telling, and oral-history exchanges took place while the women supported each other during the 3-month wait. Towards the end of the film, the workers receive pressure from a new lawyer to nationalize the factory. The cooperative was hesitant in agreeing to a new “boss”. The workers enjoyed their cooperative system where everyone was paid equally; talents and potentials were utilized in a positive working environment. However it was not clear in the film whether the group pursued nationalization or remained a cooperative.

I’m also wondering if there were more scenes that shed light on the gendered nature of work in the textile industry. There were a few male workers, but the majority of Brukman workers were women. I find the strategy of incorporating motherhood in their struggle an effective and inspirational one. How did (or did not) gender play a role in their organizing and collaboration with other workers’ organizations and labor movements? I noticed that some of the women workers took leadership positions while many of them described “transformation” in their own lives and as conscious thinkers in their communities as well as the larger society.

The film had some scenes that were unclear; when some of the workers seemed to have switched directions politically, what happened? Between those who had political agendas and those who simply wanted their jobs back as soon as possible, how did they join together in solidarity when their cooperative harbors an array of hopes and goals for the movement?  Did someone have to compromise in any way? How can movement be sustained without leaving anyone behind? It would be helpful if the film contained more scenes of negotiation between the cooperative itself. -Vicky

Mountains That Take Wings

Both Kochiyama and Davis shared thoughts on alliance across struggles. As Kochiyama stated, there were many moments of cross-racial solidarity that was left out of the limelight. In the movie, Yuri cites Malcolm X as a major influence in her development of political consciousness. Place, geography, and time period also played important roles. After the release from internment camps, many Japanese Americans, including Yuri herself, lived in predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods and were exposed to radical communities through intimate interactions with community members. That exposure, along with WWII, inspired a shift in thought that sparked commitment to activism. Time period (post-WWII) and location (projects that housed African Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Japanese/Japanese Americans), seemed to have inspired cross-racial solidarity in which people realize shared experience with racism, xenophobia, violence from the State.

Often the works of women become overshadowed by sensations that surround men in national liberation movements. But as Mountains that Take Wings reminds us, women work along-side prominent male leaders and play critical roles in social movements.

Asian American activism remains relatively unknown, but why? In the movie, there was a lot of focus on black liberation movements and connections to international politics that deal with Asian communities. But there wasn’t much time devoted to discussion of Asian American movements that emerged later. Also I wish the filmmakers had given Yuri more agency in her discussions with Angela Davis. While Davis was portrayed as someone with great presence, Yuri made lasting impressions with her “ooohhhs”, “ahhhhs”, and “oh reallllllyyy?” that I felt like overshadowed her work as an activist. -Vicky