Friday, February 27, 2015


Monday, February 23, 2015 3:12 PM
Professor Winkler,

I have a topic in mind for my final paper but would like to vet it through you before I begin doing more in-depth research.  In current events a movie has been released based on a book written called "Fifty Shades of Grey".  While I wasn't impressed at all with the literature, I am currently very interested in the conversations on female sexuality that it has stirred up.  Female sexuality in America is fascinating to me as we have practically zero self-identity outside of the prominent male-centered sexuality currently accepted in our society.  I wish to explore why female sexuality is seen as shameful, and why women go to such great lengths to please the male sexual ego (dress, makeup, even vocabulary, etc.), rather than work to support, encourage and admire our own.

I'm worried that while this subject fits with the overall theme of the class that it might not be specific of a thesis enough to meet your criteira.  I would greatly appreciate your feedback.

Best Regards,
Charlissa [POS 355, Women, Power and Politics]

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 10:25 AM
-Dear Charissa,
I have been concerned about the celebration of violence against women in 'romantic' relationships due to this  book and film. There have been protests against it. The male star  said he would never do such things to women himself. But at the same time, the book was popular only by word of mouth so obviously it did appeal to millions of women! How to explain that?  One  theory I have come up with, is the idea that women have internalized their oppression , making it okay and desirable to be treated roughly. Or, another theory is, that faced with the challenges of being a woman in a man's world, women have regressed to fantasies of being passive and as you say, being a sexual object. Perhaps it's a safer place because it's a known place from the past.

Your theory as to why this film is popular is very relevant, and it made me think. You wrote ' I wish to explore why female sexuality is seen as shameful, and why women go to such great lengths to please the male sexual ego (dress, makeup, even vocabulary, etc.), rather than work to support, encourage and admire our own. "  So, building on that, it could be that women are ashamed of their sexuality and so the punishment we see in the book and the film, is self punishment for being sexual.

Definitely, pursue this idea for a Final Paper plan, using the film and book as a starting point. The prompt asks you to cycle through the theories we are learning in this class to see what might apply. Liberal feminism basically asks that women become 'like men'  ( ie be 'free' sexually)  and not build their own identify. This might mean to some women adopting a male based sexual identity.  Radical feminism focuses more on women building a woman centered identity.  I am now seeing  a massive conflict between these two theories, as played out in the film and the response, pro and anti, to it. Thanks for introducing this topic, and giving me a chance to think of it theoretically, in this email to you. Looking forward to your findings,




Thank you so much for your reply!  I appreciate you taking the time to consider my request and respond with such great insights.

Yes, I agree with you that it seems almost as though male-centered sexuality in our culture has psychologically pushed women to seek internal retribution against themselves.  In many ways they act out their passivity -  whether they are punishing themselves for denying their own sexuality, or punishing themselves for accepting the oppression put upon them - I can't say.  Either way it is obvious to me that the feminine isn't celebrated or allowed to flourish in our sexual society.  Our culture seems to view women as vessels only for male sexuality.  I know that it has not historically always been this way, and since this is true, what we are seeing is a learned system of control over women perpetuated through time.  I find this deeply disturbing, and appreciate your permission to delve into why this is.

This subject (as all the other presented in this class) fascinate me.  Thank you for teaching such an enlightening and thought provoking class!

Best Regards,

1 comment:

  1. When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.Buy 50 shades of Grey