Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sexism in Ware (Final Project)

Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth makes statements and arguments about a number of issues. It is clear, though, that the main issue Ware wanted to get out to his readers is concerning misogyny and sexism in our society. Ware gave great examples of men being misogynistic and rude towards women in the story, simply because they are women. He also gets his message across through his illustrations and how he drew certain men and certain women in different situations.
On the very first page of Jimmy Corrigan, Ware all but confirms that what the reader is about to read is going to be primarily concerned with gender and sexism. The first question on part 5 of the “General Instructions” asks: “You are a. male   b. female            If b, you may stop. Put down your booklet. All others continue” (Corrigan). The “exam” then asks questions about interacting with the opposite sex, your relationship with your father, what type of bag you prefer to keep your investment funds in, etc. This was Ware’s clever, yet blatant way of telling the reader that this book was going to address misogyny and gender inequality. Females were told to put down this exam because who cares how they feel about interacting with the opposite sex? How would a female be able to answer a question about what type of bag she prefers for protecting her investments when males are obviously the only ones who need to be worrying about money? This was Ware’s sarcastic way of pointing out how women are treated in our society. This simple “exam” makes a big statement about the gender roles women are expected to take on just because they are women. In real life, there are things that men are expected to do, but for some of the same things, women are told to just “Put down your booklet,” and wait for men to take care of something women are perfectly capable of handling themselves.
            Ware doesn’t waste any time in the beginning of Jimmy Corrigan, as within the first few pages, he illustrates an example of a way women are objectified every day. Jimmy meets a Superman actor at a classic car show. Superman is kind to Jimmy as soon as he sees Jimmy’s mother scolding him. Superman takes Jimmy and his mother out to lunch, and then has sex with her. The next morning, Superman sneaks out because he had got what he came for: sex. Superman never had any interest in taking Jimmy’s mother out for a second date or inviting her over to his “great little beach house in Burbank,” even though he led her to believe he would. He used her the same way that men all over use women on a daily basis. The way that Ware illustrated Superman in this part of the book was interesting. In the beginning of the sequence, Ware drew Superman’s face hidden behind a mask. After Superman asks Jimmy’s mother out, his face is not shown again. This is because Superman is no longer just Superman. He becomes Ware’s symbol for all of the men in society who use women for sex by duping them with their lies. The face of Jimmy’s mother is also hidden from the view of the reader as she becomes the symbol for all of the women in society that are used by men for sex. Ware illustrates her chest as she is buttoning up her shirt to show that Superman only used her for her sexuality. This type of thing happens all the time; a man will lie to a woman and tell her everything she wants to hear to get into her pants. Ware wants to bring attention to this because he does not think it is right.
            Jimmy has other encounters throughout the novel with men who really don’t think women are worth a damn. One of his co-workers has a long conversation with Jimmy about how he refuses to tell women that he likes them unless he has sex with them at least six times. This man’s face is also not illustrated by Ware. Ware did this because he didn’t want to give the man a face or a name, but rather use him as a symbol for men in the workplace who bring their unwanted opinions about women and try to push them on others. Jimmy didn’t want to have a conversation with this guy at all. This guy didn’t care. He represents men in society who speak about objectifying women even when no one wants to hear about it. We see something similar when Jimmy and his father are at the restaurant together and Jimmy’s father absolutely berates the female cashier for putting ketchup on his burger. Jimmy’s father was an example of misogyny in the novel where the perpetrator’s face was actually shown. Ware did this to show that the average everyday person, like Jimmy Corrigan, most likely has at least one person in their family that has controversial or sexist views, and is not afraid to talk about them.
            In the section of the book where we follow the story of Jimmy’s grandfather as a young boy in Chicago, we learn about his friendship with a red-haired girl. Jim’s grandfather and the girl played around a lot, but she was always teasing him. He was a lot smaller than her, so he just took it most of the time. However, one day when she was teasing him about being a bastard and not knowing who his mother is, he fought back and that led to a full-on fist fight between the two. After that, the two never really hung out again. I believe that this silly little fight led to Jimmy’s grandfather having a bad view of all women which he passed on to his son, Jimmy’s father. Because Jimmy was raised by a single mother, overbearing as she may be, he wasn’t exposed to a father figure who was disrespectful to women. If the primary goal of this novel wasn’t to make an argument about misogyny and sexism, Ware could have left the part about the red-haired girl out of the story entirely, but he didn’t. Ware put it in to show where the roots of Jimmy’s father’s sexist attitude came from. Ware wanted to show that people are not just born sexist. Having a sexist attitude could come from a really bad experience with someone of the opposite sex or it could be engrained in you by someone close to you, like your father.
            Jimmy’s father had an adopted daughter named Amy that Jimmy didn’t find out about until late in his life. Amy was the result of the relationship Jimmy’s great-grandfather had with one of his servants, so she and Jimmy were technically related. Amy and Jimmy met when their father was in a car accident. Ware put Amy in the story so she could save Jimmy. Jimmy was down and out, blaming himself for his father’s car accident, but she was there when no one else was.  Ware needed to have a strong female character in the story to represent all of the strong women who live in our society and do great things every day.

Jimmy Corrigan by Chris Ware made an argument about how prevalent misogyny is in our society. He represented perpetrators and victims with characters in the novel. A lot of their faces were never illustrated because Ware wanted the reader to see them as more of a symbol than just one person. Jimmy Corrigan was surrounded by misogynists on a pretty frequent basis whether it be a co-worker or family member or even his favorite superhero. Ware used Jimmy as a message that the chain can be broken. Just because his father was a bit of a sexist doesn’t mean that he had to be. Although Jimmy was an odd man growing up in a sexist society with an overbearing mother, he still turned out to be a good man. Ware wants his readers to look around and notice the sexism in society. He wants us to put a stop to it.

Ware and Values (Final Project Version)

Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth is a very complex comic book. Not only does it not read like a normal comic book due to its complex panel layouts, but it is almost meaningless when read on the surface. However, when read at a deeper level, there are multiple meanings or purposes that are possible to explore. One of these purposes is to cause the reader to reevaluate their personal values, as well as the values of society as whole. The main themes for these values include technology and commercialism, but also can be viewed through military and social lenses. A common central point for these questionable values is the World’s Columbian Exposition. The World’s Columbian Exposition set out to show the progress of United States as a country. Ware questions whether the United States is still headed in the direction that the World’s Columbian Exposition was supposed to guide us towards, or if there was a negative detour along the way.
One of Ware’s main interests in Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth is the concepts of technology and commercialism. This pairing is due to the tendency for technological advancements to be driven by commercialism. Without the pressure of commercialism on technology, the advancements would be extremely slow. Although today we tend to refer to technology as electronic devices or various forms of software, technology is defined as anything that has an effect on our lives, generally in a positive way. However, most technology is actually created to increase production, lower costs, and/or increase profit margins.  Not all technology fits into this generalization, but it is a major trend.
Ware emphasizes this through the depictions of the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. There are numerous pages of panels relating to the World’s Columbian Exposition in the book. Several of these pages are related to building designs. In this time period, there was a cultural demand for attractive buildings. Unfortunately, with the rise of industrialism, came the rise of commercialism. Although commercialism is nothing new, the greed and demand for products to be highly profitable arose. Several of the buildings that Ware depicts would never be built today due to costs. Everything today is costs versus benefits with the benefit as the primary, if not the only, factor for most executives. For example, one of the buildings is essential a huge hangar-like building with the walls and ceilings being steel and glass. Although this building may be fond to the eyes, it is highly expensive and would never be seen to be worth the costs in today’s society. Throughout the whole section on the World’s Columbian Exposition, Ware depicts buildings that have visual appeals like this one. This is likely due to Ware forcing the reader to think about what not only their values are, but what is valued by others and the country or world as a whole.
The concept of thinking about or re-evaluating values is a reoccurring theme throughout the book. Although it is not solely tied to the issues relating to military, technology, and commercialism, it can be applied to most, if not all, of these issues. For example, with the issue of Jimmy’s grandfather during the Civil War, the reader is guided towards thinking about and possibly re-evaluating what they think is versus what is valued for someone in the military. Although this is not bound to war times, the values could be different due to circumstances.
Although the theme is throughout the entire book, the heart of the theme has to deal with the focus of technological progress of the World’s Columbian Exposition and the failure to adhere to this forecast. Despite the theme of the World’s Columbian Exposition, “Some of the more popular exhibits were curiosities rather than serious displays of technology and progress. They included an eleven-ton cheese and a 1,500 pound chocolate Venus de Milo in the Hall of Agriculture and a seventy-foot-high tower of light bulbs in the Electricity Building.  (The World’s Columbian Exposition)”. Ware decides not to include this in his book. Although it may be hard to depict this specifically, it definitely changes the way the World’s Columbian Exposition is viewed. This could be interpreted in many ways including people did not see or value progression and that people find attractions more interesting. Those interpretations may not actually be distinct. As for not seeing progress, for the people attending the event, most of the exhibits being displayed were part of their everyday lives. Typically things that people use on a daily basis, they take for granted, hence the lack of value of progression.  Although these are not the only reason why people may find the exhibits that they do not get to experience during their daily lives, it is definitely a serious possibility. What is more interesting is why Ware did not include this in his depiction of the World’s Columbian Exposition. One likely possibility is that it is not necessarily a failure, but rather human nature. Despite this, taking things for granted seems like it should be covered by Ware. The likely reasons that Ware did not cover this concern is that either he did not think of it, or his did not want to be hypocritical since he probably takes things for granted as well. Although this cannot be explained entirely, it is something that could probably be explored at a deeper level reading of the book that I currently have. Again, this ties back into value evaluation. Although it does not appear to be explored by Ware, it still is something that should be considered by the reader.
According to the Chicago Inter Ocean, the World’s Columbian Exposition got its name from the person who discovered North America. “America is really Columbia, and should have been named so” (Chicago Inter Ocean). Although this newspaper is technically incorrect since Leif Eriksson was the first to discover North America, Christopher Columbus was one of the first to settle in the current area inhabited by the United States. The World’s Columbian Exposition was created to honor Columbus and show how much progress has been made since this “discovery”.
The World’s Columbian Exposition was supposed to be an event displaying progress. Although it has been noted that these exhibits were not always valued during that time period, it defines a forecast for the future. One of the technologies that is displayed to shape the future is electricity. Ware depicts a building with a sign saying “ELECTRICITY IS LIFE”. He also caps the section on the World’s Columbian Exposition in panels depicting a street light and some electrical wires connected to telephone poles. There is also a depiction of the lights turning on at the beginning and off at the end. This can be interpreted in multiple ways that are somewhat similar. One of these is meaning is from the use of light bulbs as an icon for an idea. When exploring this meaning, we see the World’s Columbian Exposition as purely that, an idea. This is probably close to reality. The forecast depicted by the World’s Columbian Exposition was a great idea, but not reality. Another meaning comes from the expression “to see the light”. When applying this meaning, the World’s Columbian Exposition is a brighter life, or at least the forecast could have been. Unfortunately, the saying “things aren’t always better on the other side” comes in to play here. With both meaning applied, you get a sense of what is really occurring. Electricity did have a huge impact on life, but not always in a positive way. Most of this falls back on the evaluation of values.
Today, you often hear people say that we are becoming more anti-social due to the amount of time we spend behind screen. Although we cannot get Ware’s view point of this due to the time period of the book, it is possible to refute this view, making Ware’s view point of sociality in the 1980s outdated. Today, we have numerous ways of being social, without being physically in the space, such as Skype, FaceTime, FaceBook, Twitter, and several other technologies and applications. When applying this statement to Ware’s views on sociality in the 1980s, his views appear to be outdated.
Although Ware does not directly talk about socialization, it does fall into his theme of reevaluating our values and the values of others. There are several questions that revolve around technology and socialization. One of these issues is whether or not being connected with others is enough to create socialization, or what is required for socialization.  Although this could be open to personal opinion, I would argue that these electronic interactions are mostly communication and not completely social. The manner in which someone sends a text or instant message is different than that of email or a phone, audio, or video call. The first group is typically extremely informal and no real social skills are needed. The second group is typically more formal, but can still be performed at a lower manor. For example, in the book, Jimmy receives numerous unwanted phone calls from his mother. Although he can typically get off the phone, he is not able to get the point across that he should not be called while at work. Even further, he has no idea how to respond to the woman on the plane. He does respond, but you can tell by the way that Ware illustrated him, that he is extremely uncomfortable. Ware is clearly showing that Jimmy does not have social skills. Although this book is before computers and cell phones were available to the masses, Jimmy is not completely comfortable interacting with anyone and it does not appear that even if he had access to the technology of today, he would have anyone to improve his social skills with.
This concept of technology and socialization falls back to the sign during the Columbian World’s Exposition that says “ELECTRICITY IS LIFE”. However in Jimmy’s case, this does not appear to be completely true. Jimmy Corrigan uses very little electricity throughout the book. He uses lights, probably heat, a microwave, an alarm clock, and phones. Jimmy could probable survive without any of these inventions. This is an interesting concept because most people today are lost without electricity. For most people “ELECTRICITY IS LIFE”. If the power goes out, most of us have to think about what to do. The same can be said about the internet, which would not exist without electricity. When there is an internet outage on the floor of my dorm, everyone leaves their rooms and ask whether it went down for others. The phrase “ELECTRICITY IS LIFE” is even more interesting when paired with these outages. Although there is no argument that electricity has positive effects on our daily lives, there is also this negative side. Electricity may consume or run our lives. It can take an outage to cause us to have face to face socialization. In the Futurama episode “Mother’s Day”, which is a fictional television series that takes place in the thirty-first century, almost every piece of technology is robotic and revolts. One of the characters, Phillip J Fry, tries to open a can of soup. Without a can open, he has no idea where to turn. In this fictional future, everything is dictated by electricity even more than it is today. Granted this is fictional, but I feel that it complements the fictional world of Jimmy Corrigan and the real world when considering this dependency on electricity.
Although the book takes place from the 1860s to the 1980s, Ware’s views on modern day America still apply. Ware appears to be emphasizing the values caused technology and commercialism. Although this is a mostly opinion based view point, it is one that is not as commonly thought of.  Although you can refute some of Ware’s view points, even in the 1980s, they are still an interesting view on life. Everything has pros and cons, but it is a matter of weighing them. At the surface, Ware appears to have a story that does not seem to have much of a point. However, when diving deeper we see that Ware is favoring a negative our values of various topics. Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan has the purpose to making us reevaluate our values and those of others. There may be an intention of trying to get us to change the way we live our lives and try to improve society as a whole. What Ware wants us to value is not always explicitly clear, but there are numerous values to think about when read at a deep enough level.

Works Cited
Morton, Lewis. "Mother's Day." Futurama. Dir. Brian Sheesley. FOX. 14 May 2000. Television.
"The World's Columbian Exposition." History Files - The World's Columbian Exposition. Chicago
Historical Society, n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.

"The World's Columbian Exposition." (1890): 4. The Daily Inter Ocean, 15 Mar. 1890. Web. 10 Dec. 2014. <>.

"World's Fair Notes." (1892): 4. The North American, 15 July 1892. Web. 10 Dec. 2014. <>.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My Rose and the Lily: Understanding Blake's Approach to Societal Change (Final Project)

            William Blake’s Songs of Experience makes heavy use of religious symbols while overtly telling of everyday life events. Two particularly compelling poems are “My Pretty ROSE TREE” and “THE LILLY”. “My Pretty ROSE TREE” offers the overt meaning of jealousy; it is the tale of an envious woman. “THE LILLY” offers a more positive overt message, which exults the value in a life of love and beauty. Both of Blake’s poems integrate symbols that are common to Christianity, but their meaning within these poems breaks from their common context thereby offering Blake’s differing opinions on religion and society as a whole, and imparting new values in the process. Furthermore, the location of the poems on the page accentuates Blake’s message. Lastly, Blake’s work serves to represent his support of a more transcendental philosophy, which, when applied in his time served to address the issues of his time, but when applied today, can serve to guide thinking on today’s societally systemic issues.
            “My Pretty ROSE TREE” is obviously the story of a jealous woman. Flowers are common symbols for women and femininity and the allusion is not at all disguised (Holm 21). Blake writes, “I’ve a Pretty Rose-tree… but my Rose turnd away with jealousy: And her thorns were my only delight,” (Blake 464). Thus, Blake is rebuffed by a love interest due to the attraction of another “flower”. That meaning is obvious. The rose as a common symbol of Christianity is also immediately present. In Christianity, the rose and thorns represent a variety of different figures and situations based on the context in which they appear. Thorns are oft associated with martyrdom due to the placement of a crown of thorns on Jesus’s head during his crucifixion with the original intention of mocking Christ (“Matthew 27:29…”). The rose flower itself is often a symbol of beauty and virtue (Koehler).
            This rich history of symbolism as it relates to the rose makes Blake’s use of it compelling. After admitting the obvious something subtler appears. Given that the rose typically represents virtue, and in this case the rose “turnd away,” and “her thorns were my only delight,” then the poem takes on a new meaning (Blake 464). If Blake ascribed the typical symbolic meaning of virtue to the rose, then the rose tree would not turn away, but embrace that person which desires to “tend her by day and night,” (Blake). However, in the case of Blake’s pretty rose tree, she is prone to jealousy a synonym for envy, a sin which is, “the rottenness of the bones,” (“Proverbs 14:30…”). If Blake’s rose tree embodied typical Christian values it would not be prone to sin such as envy, and thus breaks from the traditional meaning.
            “THE LILLY” is a poem that exhibits Blake’s views on love, specifically as it relates to sex. Again Blake uses flowers as a symbol. The rose reappears in a more conservative role along with another feminine symbol, a lamb [sheep]. He writes, “The modest Rose puts forth a thorn: the humble Sheep, a threatening horn,” (Blake 464). In this case, the rose and the sheep represent women practicing the traditional, chaste Christian life turning away from love and sex. This is clarified when Blake continues, “the Lilly white, shall in love delight, Nor a thorn nor threat stain her beauty bright” (Blake). Obviously the Lilly delights in love where others do not. Much like “My Pretty ROSE TREE” the symbols utilized in the poem make it quite impactful. The lily flower, in typical Christian theology, is a symbol of chastity, virginity, and purity (Scaff 111). Lilies often appear alongside depictions of Mary or the Angel Gabriel (Morris 147). However, chastity is gone from Blake’s Lilly. Blake’s Lilly embraces love, delights in it, and is not wilted by that “sin”. Instead she remains bright and beautiful! Clearly, Blake’s Lilly breaks from typical Christian symbols exactly like the rose present in “My Pretty ROSE TREE”.
            Blake’s misuse of Christian symbols is more clearly explained when looking at his views as represented by the rest of his work. As exemplified by poems like “The Chimney Sweeper”, Blake clearly is speaking out against the mistreatment of certain people based on societal standards imparted by religion and societal structure. This viewpoint helps to explain “THE LILLY”. Its message encouraging love did not support promiscuity, but instead is merely representation of another “victim” in society (McQuail 122). It is a call to move away from the harsh sexual repression present in society, much like the rose breaking from its traditional role or the Lilly embracing love.
            In addition to the symbols and poetry itself, the situation of the poems on the page also plays a part in bringing further meaning to the poems. “My PRETTY ROSE”, “AH! SUN-FLOWER”, and “THE LILLY” appear in that order from top to bottom on a single page. “AH! SUN-FLOWER” contains a similar message to the “THE LILLY” in speaking out against sexual repression (McQuail). Therefore the page becomes a flyer speaking out against traditional Christian values, pushing the viewer to break away [“My PRETTY ROSE”], and stop sexual repression [“AH! SUN-FLOWER” and “THE LILLY”]. Blake emphasizes the unity of the three poems by capitalizing nearly every letter in the three titles.
            Blake’s movement from typical Christian ideology and symbols brings into question the true intent of his poetry. Blake was a strong believer in Mystical Christianity, and that presents itself strongly in his poetry (McQuail 121). The use of typical Christian symbols in new ways, in strange ways, exemplifies this religious philosophy. An allusion to Lilly Crucifixions is also a possibility. Such crucifixions are those that depict Christ crucified on a Lilly. They date back to medieval Christianity and “combine… mystical ideas relating to Incarnation, the Virgin’s purity, the sacrifice of Christ… and man’s redemption,” (Edwards 43). Although the ideology is similar and contains a number of parallels, it is unlikely that this is the reasoning behind Blake’s poems given the Lilly Crucifixions obscurity.
            Blake’s true intent was the representation of his overarching philosophy something that has been explored at length by many scholars. Religion was the core of Blake’s life philosophy. He professed himself to be a Christian (Davies 158). However, as found in his poetry he often expressed radical beliefs within the confines of Christian belief. In its most generalized form, Blake’s religion-based ideology bares the most similarities to the transcendentalists that succeeded Blake’s era. Blake stated, “The strong man… from conscious superiority… marches on… raging with the inspiration of a prophet’s mind,” meaning any man of note progresses through life confident in his actions, whether or not those actions be wholesomely agreed upon by authority figures (159). Davies summarizes Blake’s religious foundations nicely. He says, “[Blake] did grasp one vital factor… if the religion of Christ is to mean anything at all, a man must make it his own by personal discovery…” (160). Van Sinderen stresses the implications of Blake’s philosophy on liberty saying, “[Blake] believed… the way to God, lies in the imagination… only by complete freedom can man reach his highest powers…” cementing Blake’s belief in the power of the individual rather than the external (Sinderen 27).
            Historically, Blake’s views were of his time in a way, but were also influential on successive thinkers as mentioned previously. The late 18th century is correctly associated with the rise of romanticism in Britain, a break from the “animal and gross...” societal settings that Britain found itself mired in previously (Gaunt 9). Blake stood apart then, and stands apart now because of his individuality. In a world of manners and style, Blake broke from the preconceptions of the time, “it is a labour of genius to deny the preconceptions and reveal the truisms as threadbare… it seems a vicious circle… Blake broke the circle,” (Gardner 17). Blake railed against the air of privilege of the preceding time, embracing his individualistic philosophy and expressed everything through his work. He “attacked the dogma that God created rich and poor, master and servant,” through a philosophy that emphasized the power of the individual and the need of the individual to be wholly influential on one’s own life (19).
Looking slightly forward, Blake’s views appear quite similar to the transcendentalists of the mid 19th century. Both Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson stress individualism and an “inner spirituality.” Emerson professed, “What he announces in me, I must find true in me,” stressing the need to find and follow ones own path through a inner religious experience. Similar to Blake, Emerson emphasized “Soul,” what Blake would likely understand as emotion and imagination (Emerson 2). Thoreau spoke of an “internal heat” or “Fuel,” and directly writes, “Cast behind you all conformity… Keep on your own track…” ringing the same ideological bell as Blake with his views on freedom through imagination and calls to find one’s own path to Christ (Thoreau 7, 77). Such sentiments bare startling similarities to Blake, especially when compared to such works as Blake’s Proverbs of Hell wherein he writes, “’No bird soars too high if he soars on his own wings,’” (Sinderen 29).
            In passing, a strong correlation between a radical, 18th century poet, and influential thinkers of the succeeding era does not seem important. It seems disconnected from our time, an insurmountable 200+ year ravine appears to exist between our time and Blake’s. The importance and relevance of Blake exists not in his similarities or differences to others, in his work, or his formative experiences, rather, Blake is notable for his approach to societally systemic issues. Gardner understands this. He says, “…even when the poetry is based directly… on an intense personal experience, we are led towards the general implications,” (Gardner 39). Blake’s work exists, in a way, as a guide to addressing societally systemic issues. “My PRETTY ROSE”, “AH! SUN-FLOWER”, and “THE LILLY” exemplify this very thing. They address a series of related, systemic issues, namely the oppression of the poor and the misguided views on sex. More importantly, they exemplify Blake’s work as moving from, “a profoundly felt personal experience (which may be a reaction to social evil) to a fiercely concentrated assault on the falsehoods that inhabit the soul and therefore corrupt society,” (40). Simply, such an approach of distilling intense emotion into concentrated argument and subversion is a relevant approach to systemic issues for anyone, in any time, for anyone to strive for.
            Blake became “a hero of today’s radical student,” for good reason; his work persists, supporting his religiously based, individualistic philosophy, and providing a series of examples in how to address the issues of any time, including our own (Singer 4). Continuing on, Blake’s practice of trans valuation and the re-characterization of traditional symbols as evidenced in “My PRETTY ROSE”, “AH! SUN-FLOWER”, and “THE LILLY” serves as an important tool. It helps the reader connect with Blake’s intense emotional motivation in order to inspire indignation at injustice, to inspire action (Gardner 48). Such an approach can be applied to contemporary issues. Police brutality, racism, homosexual rights are all things that seem to arise again and again, pointing to systemic issues. Any movement benefits from the application of a Blakian approach. Sure, traffic-clogging protests physically represent discontent and serve to transfer  basic message, and help to raise awareness, but these issues, like the ones Blake addressed directly, are complex. Regardless of the creator’s wit or brevity these issues do not fit on a picket sign. I am not rallying support for some wild-eyed individualist to write a series of illustrated poems on racism, or police brutality, or homosexuality. Rather, I am imploring any person motivated to eradicate some societal injustice to move as Blake did. Distill the highly charged emotions of the issue to a clear and concise argument, and if possible, change the symbols of evil to your own symbols of good.
            The success of such an approach may be doubtful, but for examples look to the US civil rights movement of the 1960s. It may seem self-defeating to cite racism as a contemporary societal issue, and cite the African-American civil rights movement as an example of success, but when dealing with systemic issues, success is progress, not the complete eradication of an issue. Progress was certainly made with the adoption of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Thus, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech stands as a prime example of a Blakian approach to an issue. Dr. King subverts the societally accepted ideal of the American dream, which until that time implicitly excluded blacks, and replaces it with his own dream. He said, “I still have a dream, a dream deeply rooted in the American dream – one day this nation will rise up and live up to its creed…” assigning fresh meaning to a classic phrase that is so strong in its imagery that it serves in the same way as Blake’s Rose (“I Have a Dream…”). More importantly, the Civil Rights movement distilled raw emotional power in the form of rage, sadness, and despair to a highly focused argument, and in the process achieved a great deal. Dr. King’s famous speech is a prime example of my point.
            William Blake’s work subverted traditional values by applying new meaning to traditional symbols. In particular, his poems “My Pretty ROSE TREE” and “THE LILLY” exemplify his transvaluation of symbols. From his work one can grasp Blake’s overarching, religiously based, individualist philosophy, which bears many similarities to the transcendental thinkers that succeeded Blake’s era. This connection to the transcendental helps to bridge the gap between the past and present, and assists in focusing on the general implications of Blake’s philosophy. The general implications of Blake’s philosophy provide a means of addressing nearly any societally systemic issue by starting from a point of emotion and concentrating that emotion into a clear argument. Blake’s work serves as an example of this philosophy, thus cementing his relevance as long as emotionally charged issues continue to plague society.

Works Cited
"Matthew 27:29 KJV." Matthew 27:29 KJV. Biblehub, 2004. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.
Blake, William, and Geoffrey Keynes. Songs of Innocence and of Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul 1789-1794. Kindle ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1970. Print.
Edwards, John. "Lily-Crucifixions in the Oxford District." Oxford Art Journal 2., Art and Society (1979): 43-45. JSTOR. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.
Holm, Michael Juul., Ernst Jonas. Bencard, and Poul Erik. Tøjner. The Flower as Image. Humlebaek, Denmark: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2004. 21-22. Print.
Koehler, Theodore A. "The Christian Symbolism of the Rose Our Lady and the Rose." The Christian Symbolism of the Rose Our Lady and the Rose. University of Dayton, 5 Aug. 2009. Web. 6 Oct. 2014.
Mcquail, Josephine A. "Passion and Mysticism in William Blake." Modern Language Studies 30.1 (2000): 121-34. JSTOR. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.
Morris, Frances. "An Early Seventeenth-Century Cope." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 9.6 (1914): 147-48. JSTOR. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.
Scaff, Susan Von Rohr. "The Virgin Annunciate in Italian Art of the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance." College Literature 29.3, Literature and the Visual Arts (2002): 109-23. JSTOR. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.
Emerson, Ralph W. "Divinity School Address." Address at Divinity College. Massachusetts, Cambridge. 15 July 1838. Web. 7 Oct. 2014.
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden; Or, Life in the Woods. New York: Dover Publications, 1995. Print.
Davies, J. G. "Conclusion." The Theology of William Blake, by J. G. Davies. Oxford: Clarendon, 1948. 158-61. Print.
Gardner, Stanley. Blake. New York: Arco, 1969. Print.
Gaunt, William. "Towards the Past." Arrows of Desire: A Study of William Blake and His Romantic World. Folcroft, PA: Folcroft Library Editions, 1978. 9-35. Print.
Sinderen, Adrian Van. "Philosophy." Blake, the Mystic Genius. Syracuse: Syracuse UP, 1949. 27-30. Print.
Singer, June. The Unholy Bible: A Psychological Interpretation of William Blake. New York: Published by Putnam for the C.G. Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology, 1970. Print.
Luther King Jr., Martin. ""I Have a Dream..."" 1963: 1-6. U.S. National Archives. Web. 7 Dec. 2014.
"Proverbs 14:30 KJV." Proverbs 14 KJV. Biblehub, 2004. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.

Bechdel’s Sexuality: Her Father’s Nature and Lack of Nurture (Final Project)

What role do our parents play in our lives? The scientific argument of nature vs. nurture looks at certain aspects of an individual and debates what plays a more important role in someone’s life: their genes or their upbringing. However, it is now more widely accepted to believe that it is actually a combination of the two that shape “who we are.” Certain genes determine particular aspects of ourselves, but the product of the experiences also shapes us. It is more fascinating that certain, unusual traits can be controlled by this dichotomy. Fun Home depicts Alison Bechdel’s childhood highlighting the strange relationship between herself and her father. Throughout Fun Home, Bechdel depicts herself in a similar, if not mirroring way to her father to highlight the similarities between them and the influence he has had on her.  Her father is a closeted homosexual and Bechdel later comes out as a homosexual herself. Is it a coincidence that Bechdel ends up being gay? On the contrary, her sexual preference may be completely determined from her father. Bechdel’s sexuality is due to the genetic predisposition she inherited from her father as well as his aggressive behavior and hidden sexuality. Understanding Bechdel in a scientific perspective allows the reader to understand the graphic novel as an even more thought-out piece than before. The scientific background shows the art can be a textbook of her life. Furthermore, Bechdel’s situation shows more about the immense impact everyone’s parents have on not just their sexuality, but on the shaping of every aspect of life.  
In Fun Home, Bechdel depicts her father in very distinct ways throughout the book. She does show him as extremely controlling, but she also chooses to draw him in a similar matter to herself. Her tendency to show the similarities (rather than the differences) between them begins the connections of the role her father plays in shaping who she is. She knows, at least on a subconscious level, that her sexuality is due to her father. An example is on page 67 in the middle frame (Bechdel). Bechdel depicts her father arriving home from work and removing his coat as he leaves the kitchen, walking away from her and her mother. She purposely draws her mother facing away from the frame’s perspective so that her face is hidden showing that her father is supposed to be emphasized. Her autobiographical drawing of herself shows her with slightly wavy hair that falls over her face, which is shown with a rounded nose and half-moon shaped eyes. She looks towards her father in hope of guidance, perhaps even in specifically with her sexuality. Bechdel draws her father in a similar way; most specifically his eyes and nose are the matured equivalent of her own (Bechdel). Drawing him as the older version of herself shows that Bechdel knows she has similarities with her father, which starts the discussion of how much he impacts her sexuality.
There are many other examples of Bechdel’s depiction of herself and her father, but an important one is on page 123, as it depicts her subconscious dreaming which is very closely linked to true sexual preference (Bechdel). The last frame shows Bechdel facing her father in a dream. She first places her father opposite of herself; they are purposely mirroring each other. She even makes the attempt to make herself look more masculine than she does in the first frame of the page. In the first frame she is not shown with her father, and she looks more feminine in all aspects (eyes, hair, nose), but when she is shown mirroring her father she looks particularly more masculine. She portrays herself more like her father when she is with him. Her nose becomes pointier, her eyebrows are in distinct points rather than curved arches, and her mouth is small and bent downwards. Her father is depicted in almost every way as a reflection of herself. She goes even farther on the following page (Bechdel 124). The first frame shows the pair as silhouettes, standing next to each other. While she is shown as a smaller version, she is clearly supposed to be the miniature version of her father.  
An additional connection that Bechdel makes is comparing herself with her father in terms of colors. Blue, more specifically midnight blue represents herself, while a rich golden yellow represents her father. Even though these colors differ in a many ways and can be used to show the distinct differences between the characters, they also show the similarities. The colors are opposite of each other on the color wheel which in an artistic sense means that they can be paired together. They act on each other and emphasize the other’s tones. They also mix to make green, the color most associated with nature. It shows that the blue and yellow are at their heart related, in this case literally father and daughter. The artistic choices Bechdel makes in Fun Home show that there is more to her relationship with her father than just his power over his family; there is a connection between them in many other ways.
It is also important to look at the similarities between Bechdel’s personal experiences and her father’s sexual progression. Bechdel shows that as a child she liked to dress up in male clothing, an external sign of children who are struggling with their inner sexuality (Bechdel 182 Lippa 22). In one scene, as she and a friend are playing, they dress up in her father’s clothes and Bechdel expresses a great feeling of sadness when they stop playing the game. Later in life she finds a picture of her father wearing women’s clothing, representing her father’s similar struggle with his sexuality (Bechdel 120). When she finds the photo of her father she states, “…even the angle of shadow falling across our faces—it’s about as close as a translation can get” (Bechdel 120). The fact that Bechdel’s father and Bechdel want to be less feminine and less masculine respectively, is another reason to look at his effect on his daughter’s sexuality.
In the past, there has been a consistent debate as to which affects an offspring more: nature or nurture. Nature representing the genes they receive from their parents. Nurture representing the way they are raised and the environment they grow up in. Some studies show that anyone can overcome certain genetic factors, while others say that certain ones such as a developmental disease (cerebral palsy for example) are proof that these matter most. Then there are researchers who show that anyone can overcome a difficult home life such as growing up in the slums, but the reality is that the amount of people who successfully accomplish this is small, showing that nature must play some sort of role (Goldhaber). Recently, it has been concluded that it is most likely that a mixture of both factors affect an individual (Goldhaber). Of course both nature and nurture play a role in someone’s personality and certain traits. With this new idea, people have begun to focus on how these affect certain traits that are typically not thought of as influential by parents (Goldhaber). One of the most fascinating “traits” is sexuality or sexual preference of offspring.
There is a continued debate as to whether sexuality is a choice. However, if it is assumed that it is not controllable, what role do parents play in the predetermination. Sexual identity has three main components that can be affected by events and therefore Bechdel’s sexual identity can be due to her nature and her nurture (Goldberg 127). There are many studies that are interested in the sexuality of children who have one or multiple gay parents. Currently, scientists believe that sexual orientation is due to a multitude of factors that begin in the fetal stage. Genetics do seem to play an important role in overall sexual orientation. The most obvious research proving this is shown in twin studies where identical twins tend to be more similar in sexual orientation than non-identical twins (Goldberg 132). The twin study is one of the most important proofs that homosexuality is controlled by genetics (Steen 193). Therefore, if a parent possesses the “homosexual gene” and passes the gene on then the child will possess a genetic marker that determines their sexual orientation. In addition, research shows that the “social environment may be operative in the development of sexual orientation” (Goldberg 133). For children with two homosexual parents, the more open views allow individuals to truly think about their sexuality and determine their course, rather than assuming the typical heterosexual identity. Studies prove that social norms and social environment can affect sexuality depending on the individual (Goldberg 134). It is not that it completely determines their sexuality, but rather it influences the degrees to which they act upon “their own same-sex desires” (Goldberg 134).
After the twin studies first began, research began to find the specific gene which may “control” sexuality. In 1993, a team of researchers discovered a gene on the X chromosome that may be the “homosexuality gene” (Pool). The study was specifically on gay men and not women, but since females have two X chromosomes (one from each parent) and the specified gene is on an X chromosome, females must inherit the gene if either parent possesses it. There is still some debate as to if this specific gene is the only one that controls sexuality and to what affect other genes have on sexuality because it is clear that is complex with multiple alleles. However, it is clear that genetic disposition is a factor in sexuality.
While research on the impact of gay and lesbian parents on children is growing rapidly due to the wider acceptance of homosexuality, it is important to remember that gay parents have always existed (Goldberg 3). Many parents including Bechdel’s father have raised children in heterosexual relationships without many people ever knowing that they were in fact not heterosexual. However, even though their sexuality may not be clear, it is still not a personal choice and therefore its impact occurs no matter if it is known in the moment or not. The impact of Bechdel’s father’s hidden sexuality still plays a very important role in her sexuality even though he is not out as a homosexual parent, and the research still applies to her sexuality.
Bechdel’s father can be most easily described as a closeted gay man (there is some discrepancy because he does not self-identify). As someone who is in many ways living a lie, he often has outbursts of anger in moments when he loses control of his life. Since Bechdel has a strained relationship with her absent, abusive father, she wants to be different than him. She embraces masculinity in an attempt to be different than him. However, she does not know that the effect of her father’s sexuality and his identity cannot be reversed. He creates the identity of his daughter in more ways than either of them know.
Research shows that nature or the social environment of one’s upbringing at least is a factor in their expression of sexuality and the ability to properly consider being non-heterosexual.  Therefore, it is necessary to look at Bechdel’s childhood experiences to see not only how her father’s hidden sexuality affected her own, but also how his abuse/absence affects her sexuality journey. As previously mentioned, the genetic effects of sexuality are not hidden simply because the parent is a closeted homosexual, but the impact of a household environment with “out” homosexual parents is different than one with a closeted parent (Steen 185). In the latter, the parent must live a continuous internal struggle with who they are and who they pretend to be. As they try to live a life that isn’t inherently theirs, a large psychological impact grows (Pennington 37). This psychological struggle is a major factor in Bechdel’s father’s anger. When there are moments that he feels out of control, the only way he can express his unhappiness is by yelling at his children, the reminders that show the person he pretends to be. Since Bechdel grew up in constant unknowing of what her father would do, one must also look at the psychological impact on her sexuality. In many cases of abuse, especially when the abuser is male, the victim stops being attracted to the sex of the abuser (Letourneau). Since Bechdel’s abuse started at a young age, it is quite likely that she started displaying and embracing lesbian tendencies to exile anyone who was like her father. By being attracted to women rather than men, she put up a subconscious defense mechanism against being abused again (Letourneau). Due to the abuse, Bechdel was never attracted to men because she wanted to exile anyone who was like her father, anyone who was a man.  
There are still some people in the scientific community who believe that sexuality is completely a choice. They feel that there is no proof as to either nature or nurture playing a role in sexual preference, instead the individual chooses which gender(s) they are attracted to. As more research is done on the basis of sexuality, less people are in this realm of thought. It is now more widely believed that sexuality is due to a multitude of factors beyond one’s control. However, the factors that affect it will continue to be up for debate until some connection between every homosexual person is found. This task is almost nearly impossible, especially because sexuality is so self-identified. Research will continue to ultimately determine the origin of sexual preference, but to say that is completely up to the conscious brain of the individual is not proven or agreed upon. Almost all homosexual individuals agree with this and say that it is completely out of their control. The main argument up for debate in this paper is if it is completely dependent on one’s parents, in Bechdel’s case mostly her father.
Bechdel’s father ultimately ends up committing suicide shortly after Bechdel comes out to her parents. The interesting sequence of events with her truly becoming herself after her father dies shows the profound connection they possess. Despite all of their differences, they cannot be themselves at the same time. He must die in order for her to live, or at least live the way she wants to. Therefore, in an unknown and last attempt at fatherhood, his suicide allows her to embrace who she is without the known restraints from her father. There is another role that his suicide could play in his daughter’s journey. He in a sense is trying to warn her about the hardships of his life as a homosexual. In a research study, most same-sex couples voiced the opinion that they would prefer for their children to be heterosexual because it is an easier existence than their own (Goldberg). Bechdel’s father could not live with the idea of his daughter living a similar struggle as him so he committed suicide to escape watching his daughter struggle.
While her mother may not play as much of a role as her father in shaping her identity, specifically her sexual preference, it is still important to consider the ways in which her mother does affect her. Her mother lacks the ability to stand up to her father. She knows of his terrible acts to not only his children, but to other boys, yet she cannot successfully leave him. She watches as he torments her children and she does not do anything about it. Bechdel’s mother can accurately be described as a weak, helpless housewife. Subconsciously, Bechdel may have at a very young age associated with being the antithesis of her mother as much as the antithesis of her father. The stereotype of lesbians are that they are strong and independent, very far from how her mother is portrayed. As she embraces the idea that she is a lesbian, she gains the best of both worlds: she will never love someone who is like her father and therefore will never be in the helpless situation of her mother. In terms of conveniently living a different life than her childhood, her homosexuality gives her everything she subconsciously wants and needs.
By understanding the different factors that affect Bechdel’s sexuality and therefore who she is, the reader gains insight into the true premise of her story. The nature of her genes inherited from her father affects her sexuality, but also his hidden sexuality and abuse affect it. Fun Home is Bechdel’s artistic endeavor to produce the scientific explanations of her sexuality. It is an attempt to show the moments that changed who she was, including her sexuality. Since it is autobiographical, she gets to dictate precisely which elements are in a scene, and she chooses to show ones that emphasis the similarities between herself and her father. The graphic novel is like an illustrated textbook on her development. By understanding the impetus for Bechdel, the reader can also reflect on their own experiences to see more about human nature. Is anything truly in our control or is it all based off of our parents. Certain aspects may be thought of as determined by a person such as sexuality, but in actuality it is predetermined from our parents. In some cases this is obvious, for instance situations where children are born in a bad area and are therefore doomed to live a life plagued by hardship due to their parents. In other ways, like sexuality, it is much more difficult to see that almost everything about someone is because of our parents. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes it is bad, but more importantly humans as a whole population must learn how to deal with the hand we are dealt. There are distinct types of people which certain personality tests can distinguish between. These types are often times determined in part by the parents of the individual and one can see how two types are more likely to produce a certain type of person. Each type has certain flaws, but it is essential to success that one learns what their specific personal flaws are. If your parents determine everything, then we really cannot change ourselves. We are currently living in a society where people are obsessed with changing themselves: their bodies, their lives, their occupations. Instead of spending so much time and energy trying to be people we are not, instead we should find ways to overcome our flaws. Even though different sexualities are not flaws, Bechdel must still overcome the hardships of her childhood to embrace who she is.
The scientific nature of Bechdel’s upbringing mixes with the artistic choices she makes form a different understanding of Fun Home. Not only does her father’s behavior ultimately influence her own, she also is fundamentally shaped by the genes he passes down to her. By knowing the multiple different levels of her background, the reader can understand her story as a work of art that has a scientific foundation which leads to a way of knowing more about her than the reader would if he/she does not consider the science behind it. By understanding the complexities of Bechdel and the impact they have on the book, the reader can also understand more about themselves and the power their upbringing has. The nature of their genetic disposition and the nurture they receive shape many aspects of someone’s life, not just their sexuality.

Works Cited
Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. First Mariner Books, 2006. Print.

Goldhaber, Gale. The Nature-Nurture Debates: Bridging the Gap. Cambridge University Press, 2012. Print.

Letourneau, Nicole and Joschko, Justin. Scientific Parenting: What Science Reveals About Parental Influence. 2013. Web.

Lippa, Richard A. Gender, Nature, and Nurture. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc, 2002. Print.

Pennington, Bruce F. The Development of Psychopathology: Nature and Nurture. The Guilford Press, 2002. Print.

Pool, Robert. “Evidence for Homosexuality Gene.” Science. Vol 261, July 16, 1993. Published by The American Association for the Advancement of Science. Web.

Steen, R. Grant. DNA and Destiny: Nature and Nurture in Human Behavior. Plenum Press, 1996. Print.


Crumb, women, and reality (final project)

Who is Crumb? A comics artist who has OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), disgust women, and do drugs. He has two brothers that both of them have mental disorder. He got a mother spoiled her children, and a father treated them arbitrary. The childhood is full of anxious and sexual repression. Crumb was drawing his bizarre mind all his life. What can I say? Wholly freak. His comics can be recognized as annals of human beings’ desire and instinct. He showed everything in his comics: the obsession of strong muscle and ass women, icon family actually is incestuous, and the fantasy to have sex with a woman without head. It is so distorted but real. The image he showed us is so powerful to express his emotion and conflicted. On the one hand he reveled in release of angry and desire, on the other hand he dislike himself so much.
One thing really come to my mind is Crumb’s attitude about women in The Book of Genesis Illustrated. He said that “I can avoid these topics, but why? Those are what I am thinking. I never loved any women, if there is one, she is my daughter.” He never covered up how he thought about women. I read his The Book of Genesis illustrated, and those women in his book are really not my type to enjoy. In the beginning, I thought Crumb vilified those women to fulfill his personal poor taste about women, since he showed too much negative attitudes to women in his previous books. But after I finished read the book I got some new ideas about Crumb. His The Book of Genesis Illustrated did not simply transfer the words to images, He actually gave his mind inside the whole book through those images. Yes, I know Crumb disliked women, but the Genesis seems having the same idea with him. In the beginning, god created Adam and Eva. But the truth is God created Adam and he thought Adam seems so lonely to be along, so he created Eva with Adam’s bone. It seems like when god created the world, women were some kind of accompaniment for men. In the Garden of Eden, it is also Eva eta the forbidden fruit first, and she gave it to Adam. God punished Eve, “I will terribly sharpen your birth pangs! In pain shall you bear Children! And for you man shall be your longing, and he shall rule over you!” I think this is the beginning of the male chauvinism. The story gives us a directly first influence that woman is trouble. Eva could not resist temptation and she tempts Adam to make the same mistake with her. But if we consider this in another way, Eva is so brave to try new things, even if god said “you eat from it, you are doomed to die.” Men are more willing to believe woman are stupid and weak than they are brave. So the story came up to Adam take care of Eva after they got kicked out from the Garden of Eden. What a responsible man! It is the initiate of the male chauvinism, after that Genesis start to consolidate the man’s power, and restrain women with more and more rules.
In the patriarchal society, women even became men’s personal properties. Abram, a man who was blessed by god, is the prophet of the Judaism, Christianism, and Isam. He is also the “First Man” who treated his wife as a goods in the Bible. To keep himself alive, he gave his wife to other people twice. The first time is in Chapter 12, to avoid Egyptians kill him because of the beauty of his wife. He told his wife, “Say, I pray you, that you are my sister, that it may go well with me on your account, and I shall stay alive because of you!”  So Pharaoh’s courtiers took her into Pharaoh’s house; Abram stay alive and got lots of awards from Pharaoh. The same thing happened in Chapter 20, Abram sent his wife to Abimelech. It surprised me that God chose to punish the Pharaoh and Abimelech since Abram is the man he blessed. If we heard things like Abram did in the modern society, I believe most of people would say it is ridiculous. From my personal view, Abram can never be a great person in the history. I have not seen anything he did fulfill his prophet identity. He changed his name to Abraham since God asked him to. He even wants to sacrifice his only son Isaac to God because it is a test for Abraham to detect his faith. I saw a fervent believer through those stories, the personality itself is irrelevant. Abraham is such a ruthless person. The way he treated his wife was cruel and insane. How much humanity left in Abraham? A man should protect his wife, not use his wife to protect himself. From the Abraham story I realized that in the male-dominated society, women can be abandoned by their husband any time, even treat as personal property. They did not have any social status; they belong to their husbands. They did whatever their husbands asked. When we consider the god is always fair to everyone, I need to ask a question --- is the equality only to his believers or including everyone?
I started to think the attitude towards women in the whole western society. In Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, the title page already used words in Bible “vengeance is mine, I will repay.” Bible as a spiritual pillar supported Anna’s world. The end of Anna can be considered as the tragedy of ideology. The death of Anna was the consequence that Anna provoked the current social rules. Although she can control life and death of herself, the point is that the manipulator behind her death is the unshakable male chauvinist ideology. In 1971, Linda Nochlin published Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists. It is the first time feminism challenged the history of art. She pointed out a fact that in the art history there are no great female artists like Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, etc. And the reason caused this fact is that the society have an unfair treatment between men and women. Artists need to be trained when they are young, but son have a more important status than daughter caused lots of women lose the chances. In the Bible there are express terms that the responsibilities for women are fertility and family. The Society never encourages women try artistic creation which beyond their identities. Under the paternity’s education system, women are treated as models most of time. They do not exist as beholders or creators. Linda Nochlin also mentioned “here exist, to my knowledge, no representations of artists drawing from the nude which include women in any role but that of the model—an interesting commentary on rules of propriety: i.e., it is all right for a ("low," of course) woman to reveal herself naked-as-an-object for a group of men, but forbidden that a woman participate in the active study and recording of naked-as-an-object men or women.” Now we consider art and religion in the renaissance, many painting themes came from the Bible. Such as Michelangelo’s The fall and Expulsion from Garden of Eden, Eva’s face is weird and ugly, it probably represents the theological field’s attitude about women. God created women to punish human beings, they are the reason people started the miserable time in the history. And the Italian painter Tintoretto’s Susanna And The Elders, showed the most beautiful moment when Susanna take the shower. For me it is also express the beauty always bring troubles. Otherwise the painting showed a sexuality question, the ideal audiences are always men, and women exist for flatter men.
How ironic it is. The Genesis and the whole western society have some similar ideas about women with an underground cartoonist for a long time. Crumb is a crazy artist, his miserable childhood and insane family caused he has such a distorted view of the world. In the movie, Crumb’s two brothers are actually made me feel so sad. Compare Robert Crumb himself, his two brothers are also talent artists. But they got swallow by the darkness. The older brother Charles Crumb still lived with his mother, and probably did not go out for a long time. He was more obsession in his inside world than Robert Crumb, he used medical to keep the emotion stable. He already gave up painting for a long time, even writing the ambiguous word anymore. I was shocked by his work actually; it seems so different and amazing. The work also showed that he gradually became crazy and depressed. He killed himself after the movie finished. Meanwhile, the younger brother, Max Crumb was also made me unforgettable. He was an isolated sage. He punished himself every single day to cleanse his soul. He seat on the bed made by nails, and eat cloth. When Robert Crumb went to see his younger brother, he became a conversable man. I have to say after I saw this movie; one thing I really understand is that genius and insanity only have a blurry line between them. Crumb and his brothers are genius or insanity, but we know their attitudes are dark and negative most of time. The way they judge the world comes from an unhappy family and odd childhood, but most of men in the history actually have the same idea about women with them. What can I say? In the Genesis Chapter 19, Zoar’s daughters made some stupid decisions about “keep alive seed from their father”. They made their father drunk and had sex with them. When I read it, I can only say it is just ridiculous. And in the Chapter 39, there is a story about Joseph and his Egyptian master’s wife. She wanted to lie with Joseph since he is so handsome, but he refused her. He said “How could I do this great evil, and give offense to god?” And because of he always refused her, one day she find a way to revenge. “She seized Joseph by his garment, saying lie with her. And he left his garment in her hand, and he fled and went out.” She told the master “The Hebrew Slave came into me, whom you brought to us, to trifle with me.” The garment is the evidence to prove what Joseph done. There are many stories in the Genesis to show us women are ridiculous and evil. It is no doubt that those women’s behaviors are not one hundred percent correct, but the hostility is too obvious to me. It is probably the reason why Crumb used such a different way to draw the Genesis.
The Book of Genesis illustrated does not even like his work anymore. Why did he change the way he draw the comics? Why so serious? In my personal idea, the way he mocked to the world in the Genesis did not just focus one thing or one piece anymore, the whole book showed an ironic attitude by this serious style. But there is a problem; does Crumb really want to mock the Genesis’ attitude about women? Or does he just want to agree with Genesis? Considering Crumb’s attitude about women showed in his previous book, I really have no idea. It is the most attractive part. We always try to give some meanings when we read a book or watch a movie, but the truth is those meanings come from our own experiences and ideas. When Crumb wrote this book, he probably just followed his heart. We do not know. The Genesis is an important book in human history. If Crumb rewrite the Genesis in a too “special” way, it probably will cause Crumb lose all his reputation. It is a really brave decision to write this book, and he got succeed. In the introduction of the Book of Genesis illustrated, Crumb said “Every other comic book version of the Bible that I’ve seen contains passage s of completely made-up narrative and dialogue, in an attempt to streamune and ‘modernize’ the old scriptures, and still, there various comic book bibles all claim to adhere to the belief that the Bible is ‘the word of god’, or ‘inspired by god’, whereas I, ironically, do not believe the Bible is “the word of god’. I believe it is the words of men. It is, nonetheless, a powerful text with layers of meaning that reach deep into our collective consciousness, our historical consciousness, if you will.” We can see how confident Crumb is. He has his own opinion about the Genesis, and he actually made it. The image style in his book caused the re-discussion of Bible. As a famous underground cartoonist; connecting the Genesis and himself is an interesting topic. The relationship between Crumb and women also made the Genesis changed the original meanings.
Analyzing Crumb’s attitude to women and the Bible is a complicated and confused process for me. It also made me think about the question about the world in our eyes and the world itself. It is different, right? We all know about that. But our subconscious told us we need to believe what the world shows us. We live in such a fantastic moment, people get rich, illness get heal, criminal get caught; nothing need to worry. Well, I have to say it is the most convincible illusion. If we consider the attitude about this world deep inside our heart, we probably will find that there are so many negative prejudices. For instance, I cannot accept a homosexual friend; I hate Taiwan said that they did not belong to China; I choose to ignore that the truth is I have nothing when I mocked other people; I desired money, but I showed how I love my spirit world; I do not like the poor, but I always tell people how kind I am; I like beautiful woman, but I tell other people that personalities are more important than surfaces. I just realize I am such a dishonest man with so many opposite attitudes in my mind. If our inside minds already have too many contradictions, how we can clearly identify the outside world. Linda Nochlin said that “one begins to realize to what extent our consciousness of how things are in the world has been conditioned-and often falsified-by the way the most important questions are posed.” When I judged Crumb as an underground indecent crazy cartoonist, he actually showed himself without hide to the world. It is the most valuable advantage Crumb has, but most of people do not. The movie showed me a self-contemptuous Crumb with ambitious to tell the world his feeling about this world. All his works showed a ridiculous, dark, and crazy world. His comic books involve so much violence and sex. He is just not good for children. Those negative attitudes in his book hurt, but real. When I was young, I always believed that people have a nice faith of the world; the sky would always blue, innocent girl and kind boy would always being together in the end, and hero would always save the city. As the time I grow up, I realize that those things probably are not true. Crumb actually told me that sensitive children grow up in the suffering situation, they become cynical and extreme. Most of time, when people discuss Crumb, they say Crumb is an artist enjoy condemn the social abuses, but this is him. Racial discrimination, sexism, praise violent and eroticism … The reason I like him is that he is such an honest and humor person. In his My Trouble with Women, he said “Around the age of 16 I begin wasting my god-given talent drawing pictures of sexy women the way I liked ‘em … trying to capture the shape of the magnificent female ass of my dreams. I used these drawings to masturbate, and then I’d tear’em up in little pieces and flush’em down the toilet ...” He keeps mocked himself by those jokes and showed his attitude through all these words and images. Most of good things are made up by people to cover how cruel and dark the reality is. When we grow up and parents do not protect us anymore, we can finally find out that the reality of the society does not as good as Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  
When the first time I went into Crumb’s world, I realized I would never come back. It is simple, no matter how wonderful the fairy tale is, we still live in the reality and we have the right to know the truth. The problem is that there are too many illusions to us, and we need to find the reality by ourselves. Crumb was keeping himself in the comic world, and he actually saw the world more clearly than us. We need to figure out our attitude to this chaos world, and find our own way to decide which kind of reality we choose to believe.

Works Cited
Robert, Crumb. The Book of Genesis Illustrated. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1996.
Robert, Crumb. My Troubles with Women. Last Gasp. 2003
. Nochlin, Linda. "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?" N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Tolstoy, Leo, Constance Garnett, Thomas Mann, and Philip Reisman. Anna Karenina. New York: Random House, 1939. Print.