Feminism is very present in our society today. Many people have strong views about feminism and some people struggle with identifying themselves as a feminist or not. Alexandra Franklin did not have a problem identifying herself as a feminist, but she struggle with some aspects of considering herself a feminist.
The article “Part of a Whole, but Still Me” was written by Alexandra Franklin and appeared in the New York Times on September 8, 2011. The article focuses on Alexandra’s feminist life and how aspects of it have changed throughout the years. Franklin decided in sixth grade when her teacher made a comment and began living her life the way that she thought a feminist would. She did struggle with things, such as depending on a man and giving in to society’s norms that come with being a woman with her new identity. Franklin provides examples of communication in her article that include existence of social class, gender, and power.
When it comes to the existence of social class, Franklin reflects on her past and talks about the high school she attended, which she refers to as “the old money private school” that she attended (Franklin, 2008). She also mentions that her family received a reduced tuition rate in order for her to go to the school. This is an issue of social class because her family would not have been able to afford to send her to the private school she attended if they did not have access to a reduced tuition. The fact that Franklin had to accept reduced tuition tells the reader that Franklin did not come from the “old money” that the rest of her classmates came from and it could have had an impact on her relationships with her peers and an influence on her feminist identity because according to Anderson and Collins, social class is “a series of relations that pervade the entire society and shape our social institutions and relationships with each other” (76). Franklin may have been more like most of her classmates if the existence of social class had not been present.
The concept of gender is very evident in this article, especially because it is an article about feminism. According to Anderson and Collins, gender includes the social identities that are tied to being a male or a female (83). A very powerful statement from the article is when Franklin recalls her mother trying to get her to act more like a girl. Franklin states: “I remember my mother chasing me around the house with a tube of coral lipstick, begging: “Don’t you want to feel pretty? Don’t you want to look nice?” (Franklin, 2008).” This quote is interesting to me because I believe a lot of mothers try to push being beautiful in the eyes of society on their daughters. This is a direct relationship to gender because being beautiful is a social identity that is tied to being a woman. It can be hard for young girls and women to accept beauty as a social identity of being a woman if they do not want to partake in the practices of being what society has called being beautiful. Franklin also mentions participating in ballet but she mentions, “…I barely had room in my duffel bag for pointe shoes and feminist texts” (2008). I believe that Franklin felt that because the girls in her neighborhood all did ballet and it was a “girl” thing to do she had to do it. I feel that Franklin did many things in her childhood just because it was expected of her gender, like wearing makeup and being in ballet.
Finally, the concept of power was also evident in this article. There were many people that Franklin had experiences of power with. Herrick writes about power from Foucault’s point of view, Foucault says that power and knowledge and related and power “generates ideas and concepts that are worked out materially in a culture” (Herrick, 248). I believe that Franklin’s mother had power over her only because she had more knowledge than Franklin. But the power that I find the most unique in this article is the fact that Franklin is a very powerful woman. Franklin is a woman who declared herself a feminist when she was very young. She didn’t let people influence her for her entire life, and she knew that she can be a strong feminist woman while she had a boyfriend and did things that were expect of women. But she did these things because she wanted to, not because society told her to. She had the knowledge that was necessary to have power and I believe she obtained in her feminist texts she referred to near the beginning of the article.
Alexandra Franklin’s article is an example of an artifact that we would come across in everyday life which we could apply concepts of communication to. I saw aspects of the existence of social class, gender, as well as power in this article. “Part of a Whole, but Still Me” demonstrates that Franklin faced issues of social class, gender, and power; and the fact that she could overcome power that other people had over her.
Anderson &Collins. Conceptualizing Race, Class, and Gender. 67-87
Franklin, Alexandra. "Part of a Whole, but Still Me." The New York Times 8 Sept. 2011. Print.
Herrick. Discourse, Knowledge, and Power. 246-252.
Author: Greta B.