girls girls boys

I remember in psychology class back in high school, we learnt about the education of children and the way advertisements and commercials affect children and their perception of who they are and what is acceptable in society.

Why is this relevant? Wollstonecraft talks about the education system, or lack thereof, for women during the time which she wrote The Vindications. She talked about how women were constructed by men, in that their education stemmed from the desires of men essentially wanting trophy wives, disregarding women’s humanity and seeing them as objects. Nowadays, of course, this has radically changed as education throughout the majority of the world is seen as equal where men and women are allowed to undertake in whichever field they choose. However, as learning is a lifelong process, the education of children is significant in their development into adults.

The reason I am bringing psychology into this is because mainstream education in the form of schooling is not the only way in which girls can be objectified and disregarded. Humans take in their surroundings, and the objectification of females in advertisements shine a light on the fact that the inferiority of women has now shifted from mainstream education into an everyday sort of education. Ads of the perfect women (thin, toned, blemish free, etc) are found all around and simply seeing this every single day can have a negative effect on young girls. Needless to say, women still have a ways to go in order to truly become equal to men.

Now on the other side of the argument: males, boys in general, might be experiencing some difficulties in mainstream education. I’ve come across an interesting TEDtalk about re-engaging boys into learning because there has been a trend of boys dropping out of school in recent years. One interesting point that the speaker points out is the expectations for boys to behave like girls in a classroom setting, where boys are told to “be more like the girls” and sit quietly and listen to instructions. This seems like a reverse of what Wollstonecraft may be referring to in her time, when education was targeted to males. Now, early education seems to value girls more than boys simply for their characteristics (girls are quiet and calm while boys are loud and fidgety). I guess this empowers girls in someways, saying they are the model students in classroom settings simply because of their stereotyped nature of a calm demeanor as opposed to boys, but doesn’t this then disregard boys and their nature?

Oh, the balance of gender equality, so easily tipped to one side or the other.


identity crises

Hong Kong was a colony of Great Britain until July 1st, 1997, when it was handed back to China. My point? I’m 19 and have lived pretty much all my life in a post colonial country. Why is this post titled “identity crises”? Because even though Hong Kong is considered to belong to China, Hong Kong is not China. Sure, we have the same customs and traditions and most of our culture is the same but it’s just different. Same same but different. This, I feel, ties in with Black Skin, White Masks because the idea of races is applicable to Hong Kong people’s rejection of the idea of being a part of China, or at least from China.

The distinction Fanon made between races such that people begin to distance themselves from subordinate races (black) and create connections with the dominant race (white) is a rather interesting idea: “because the Antillean is more ‘évolué’ than the African––meaning he is closer to the white man” (9). I believe this applies to Hong Kong people too; because we have been colonized by the British and have been under the influence of the British, we are closer to the “white man” as opposed to our other chinese counterparts.

Post-colonial times for a country means reconstructing a whole society, or even an entire culture and figuring out how it operates. Hong Kong obviously went back to its Chinese roots, but has become more… sophisticated, I guess I could say. In Hong Kong, the act of squatting is mainly looked down upon. This is because this act is associated with the mainland Chinese and is a behaviour separating Hong Kong people from mainland Chinese. This is significant in that it clearly demonstrates the “évolué” Fanon talks about; Hong Kong people do not squat on the sidewalks because it is not the civilized thing to do.

But then I arrive at the dilemma that I am also Chinese, and insulting my own race is not a very nice thing to do––the Antillean and the African. Identity crisis ––> I am Chinese, but I’m not Chinese Chinese, I’m Hong Kong Chinese. I’m also Canadian.

Now the word ‘Chinese’ looks weird to me because I’ve typed it too much.

zombie apocalypses are already happening… and have been for quite awhile apparently

I, unfortunately, am also included in the “zombies” because I completely blanked out and just remembered I have a blog post due today. Well technically yesterday. Whoops.

Northanger Abbey is interesting, and I got into it right at the beginning with Austen’s intriguing style of narration. Her way of describing Catherine Morland was very interesting, and I especially loved how Austen described her childhood as that of someone who would not be seen as a “heroine” and then gradually becoming one. In my reading of this, or how I interpreted it (which may be completely and utterly wrong) was how critical this was of woman during the time period of the early nineteenth century.

The tomboy Catherine was not seen as a heroine because of what she liked/disliked to do, and because all “proper” girls were to be well read (generally artistically, including music, drawing, etc.), well bred and well behaved she did not fit into the category. I think this is a great example of how the society molds people into what they should or should not be. Catherine, in my opinion, was cool when she was younger because she did what she wanted and did not seem to care much about the requirements of becoming a proper lady. But then to become a “heroine” or to be able to be classified as one when she became older, she began reading and being proper and putting herself through all the activities which would make her a conventional lady of the time. This was really interesting to me because at first I thought she would be the type of heroine to take action on her own and save herself instead of having a hero come along and drag her out of her misery, but then I think I’ve been mistaken because we are told that Catherine was waiting for a hero. And that hero turns out to be well… less heroic and more narcissistic.

Now linking that to zombies: Catherine becomes a zombie by abiding to the social norms of the “proper lady” and doing what she previously did not have interest in. Albeit this could have been due to her young age and shifting appeals of various hobbies, it nonetheless describes the conformity one goes through within society in order to “fit in”, in this case for the benefit of finding a husband. Zombies of society, living without consciousness of the effects of hegemony and social norms which pretty much also describes Shaun of the Dead. 

Now if only some special individual’s blood can cure us of this kind of zombification, that’d be great.

Magic is real — The Kingdom of This World by Alejo Carpentier

I forgot I had to do a blog post… Sorry!

The Kingdom of This World is an interesting novel, and I’m still in the midst of digesting it and trying to get into the “magical realism” of the story. I read The Chronicles of A Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez in high school and loved it, though the magical realism element still confuses me somehow.

I guess this blog post is more of what magical realism is, since it’s sort of difficult to explain and even though my english teacher tried his best to explain it, I have no clue what he’s talking about. What is magical realism? Magic into reality, reality into magic, but it’s subtle and because everything is blended into each other so well there isn’t a way to discern between the two at some point, but then when you think back on certain ideas, it seems ridiculous. This is my grasp on what magical realism is, though I still have trouble trying to figure out what elements are magical realism within the novel… Perhaps I read it too quickly.

Time to reread the novel.


= or ≠ — Discourse of Inequality by Rousseau

Power + Prejudice + Discrimination = Oppression (what I learnt in Sociology class).

For the most part, I understand what Rousseau is talking about (I think…). Inequality is generated by society in that it brought people together and therefore created moral inequality in addition to natural inequality, and reinforcement of moral inequality further enhances the disparities of natural inequality, creating a dominant and subordinate relationship with one in power and others without power.

The idea that the independent savage man is better off than the interdependent civil man both makes sense and does not make sense to me.
On one hand, the independent savage man would not suffer from inequality in that they are isolated and alone with no dominant oppressing figure and therefore better off, whereas the interdependent civil man is subjected to inequality due to the mechanics and hierarchy of society and therefore worse than the independent savage man.
On the other hand, how can advancing in being a social society be regression? Yes, inequality blossoms within every societal garden, though I’d like to think society has helped human kind progress in some way as a social being to help the species develop, slowly gaining more knowledge along the way.

Inequality and equality is weird, and so is our society. We want equality over many many different things, but there will always be people in power and inequality will always exist. Do I think we can lessen the inequality gap between people? Yes. Do I think it is possible to eradicate all inequality? Only if we decide to disband society. In the end, we progress with knowledge and in enhancing our lifestyle and livability as a species, but do not progress in our search for individual progression outside society, for we are and always will be constructed and encased by society.

Suitable quote (?):
“Like chaos in a glass cage” — Melissa Marr

Everyone’s disappearing… Take me too, maybe? –– The Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Between trying to study for my mid-terms and trying to finish reading The Master and Margarita I have to admit I’ve become very confused; everything is just mixing together in this one big container labelled “brain”.

And while this mixing is going on, certain aspects of George Orwell’s 1984 surfaced and made me cringe because I did not particularly enjoy that reading from high school, though I have to admit a lot of what happens here in The Master and Margarita is similar to that of the dystopian world of 1984. Everyone is spying on everyone, everyone is suspicious of everyone, and everything is the same for everyone. Kind of boring, except there’s supposed magic and sorcery in this, which piked my interests a little. That and it’s just downright creepy what happens to some of the characters in this novel.

During the lecture today, the idea of choice was mentioned, and that lead me to think about one particular slogan used in 1984, “Freedom is slavery”. Whether or not the citizens of Moscow had a choice of which radio channel to listen to, is it not all controlled by the government either way? “Freedom is slavery”; the illusion of freedom results in the slavery of the people. They think they have a choice, but they are actually controlled by the government in the choices they make.

This leads to another thought, of whether this form of control is present in our society today. In a sense, we are slaves of choice as a representation of freedom. I say this because we are constantly having to make choices through our everyday lives. Starbucks or Tim Hortons? Tea or coffee or hot chocolate or latte or cappuccino? Don’t all these small decisions in our lives enslave us to consumerism and capitalism, aiding the economy and the government as well?

The regulation of the population in The Master and Margarita also highlights this, in that people supposedly have a freedom to do as they please, but they do not, in fear for the secret police and the mysterious disappearances. Maybe I’m not articulating this very well since I am just wondering around aimlessly on this train of thought and will just disappear now amongst the studying and readings I have to do.


— cherie.

Naming the unknown –– Antigone’s Claim by Judith Butler

What we have here is The Ambiguous Case of Antigone, where she is “unintelligible and unthinkable”. So… why do people even bother trying to understand her?

Here’s why I think so many people have attempted to define and classify Antigone as something, yet end up failing to some degree: because society and its people cannot deal with individual anomalies. They cannot deal with the appearance of something unknown, unable to be classified and put into order. In my opinion, it drives them insane like some kind of OCD for the whole of society, going along the lines of the exclamation “WHY WON’T YOU FIT?!”, similar to that of someone trying to complete a puzzle.

This form of anxiety and interest in the anomaly is greatly influenced by the idea that society fits together; everything is within society and has a place, name, and function in social structures. Because Antigone is such a far off point in the collation of humans in general, everyone looks at her like she’s some sort of rare extinct animal. I find that these specimens of humans or characters to be the ones who challenge what we or society believe as a whole. It’s interesting to think that in classifying Antigone, humanity might gain some understanding of what or who she is, and add her to the organized list of What To Name People.

But perhaps this isn’t the point of Antigone’s ambiguity, to be named, but rather to stay unnamed so as to always remain a mystery, an unidentifiable being that transcends society and social norms to give people something to fawn over and obsess about because she does not fit, and because she is special.

Ambiguity then, I think, is good for human kind. We do not know and we are uncertain.
But isn’t that the beauty of knowledge, that we might never know? I think so.

I believe you but you don’t know what you’re saying? — Gorgias by Plato

I am confused by a very simple point in Plato’s Gorgias.

If Gorgias claims that what oratory is is simply being able to persuade a person or crowd without knowledge that he is knowledgable in something he actually isn’t, then what does he use to persuade the crowd? I’m sure the lengthy style of speech Polus gives when trying to answer Socrates gives an idea of how he does it, but then this brings me to a similar conclusion to what Socrates said: he isn’t really answering the question, just making it sound nice and grand. In the end, it’s kind of like a bluff… no?

What kind of persuasion would it be if the basis of it is simply on the words of one person without knowledge? To a person lacking knowledge, it would sound perfectly fine and seem rational, I presume, as long as someone seems to knows what they’re talking about, but it does not provide any solid ground for a claim. This leads me to question how much we actually trust other people’s words, and how much we believe what we hear. People lacking knowledge seem to be blindingly trusting in what they hear from the orator, because he appears to be knowledgable, at least in how Plato portrays the unintelligent population. Does this not mean that whoever speaks persuasively can move those lacking knowledge, even if it may be completely false and inaccurate? I guess so, but I think this also downplays humanity’s intelligence and complexity in someways, as I do not think it is as simple as Socrates rationalizes that “a man who has learned what’s just [is] a just man too” (pg, 19, 460b)

Then again, maybe what Plato portrays is true. Words can move people, as demonstrated by many great historic speeches (Martin Luther King, Hitler, etc). But do people believe in these words simply because it aligns with their motivations and goals, or is it maybe because the speaker has a certain charisma? Successful speakers certainly seem to have both, however, what I’m trying to question is how much can we believe a person based on their words without knowledge or facts backing it up? Or, as Socrates describes, how much can people be swayed by “conviction – persuasion” as opposed to “teaching – persuasion”? Doesn’t providing evidence and teaching with facts and knowledge lead to a more solidified and grounded claim? Am I just veering towards rationalism in regards to knowledge? Maybe? Regardless, given our progress in technology and availability of information, it is hard to imagine an argument or persuasive speech without at least a hint of factual evidence to support an argument. Perhaps this is just my instilled process of thinking and therefore cannot understand a “conviction – persuasion” Socrates and Gorgias is referring to.

Either way, I would like to end this post by claiming this: I don’t really have anything to back up what I’m saying.

b l u e .

Cherie Au.

Hong Kong.

About me:
– I was born in Toronto.
– I love traveling & exploring, especially the feeling of getting lost in exotic places.
– A city girl but I love nature too, which is part of the reason I chose UBC.
– It takes me awhile to get used to new people & environment, which is why I’m quiet most   of the time…

Fun facts:
– I have been in the same school (a Canadian international school) for 13 years before           attending UBC.
– I don’t like soft drinks; I’m really picky with my food…
– I’ve never watched Titanic.
– I tend to remember people’s birthdays.
– I have an unhealthy addiction to milk candies.

“When something goes wrong in your life, just yell ‘PLOT TWIST!’ and move on.” -fb/joy of dad

… nice to meet you (: