With The Scarlet Letter, we discovered that while it was a story set in Puritan times hundreds of years ago, the themes of secrets, shame, revenge and hypocrisy still ring very true today. We think we have come so far and changed so much since then as a society, but really we are all still very flawed human beings. Technology aside, we will often find we have a lot in common with our ancestors. In stories like Monica Lewinsky's from our last blog post and many others like hers, we learn that public shaming has a new forum: the internet and social media. While it may not be against the law to "sin" as Hester Prynne did, the consequential shaming and humiliation along with the hypocrisy of the finger pointers are still all too familiar. As Duncan Robinson put it, we now place each other on "pixillated scaffolds" and leer at the scene through our screens.
What do we do then with this knowledge? How do we make a change? It is words typed in comments and clicked across the world that condemn, and ultimately, it can be words speaking out in encouragement that can save. We can form groups dedicated to stop cyberbullying. We can speak up and teach the younger generations. It can start small--in your own school yards--but with passion and determination to make a positive difference, it can be cast out like a large fishing net to cover greater ground and change lives forever.
We are concluding our mini-unit on Gender and Sexuality in language as sort of a precursor to Taming
If the woman manages to survive the "accident," it is culturally
In Kabul, it is not at all uncommon for young girls and women to be admitted to the hospital shortly after marriage with injuries like internal bleeding, burns, or broken limbs. Young wives have low status in the family, and are treated like slaves by their in-laws. If a woman is widowed, she must depend on her husband's family for survival. If this is not possible, she is forced to beg or engage in prostitution to keep herself and her children fed. If a young woman runs away, or refuses to marry as her father dictates, she is often beaten, burned, disfigured, disowned and abandoned or killed by her own family.
The study of language and literature is a lot more than reading great novels, dissecting and connecting to the themes, and constructing excellent pieces of writing with exceptional grammar. This year, we have looked at our literature and our language within the overall theme of "The Power of Words." Whether we speak them, write them, text them, blog or think them, words assign meaning. They give us identity, expression, and cultivate understanding. As Hawthorne said, (and I paraphrase), in the dictionary, they are harmless; but oh, the power they have when in the hands or mouth or one who knows how to use them! Just words so often bring imprisonment, abuse and death, words are also the things that can kindle freedom, healing, and abundance of life. We now know a little bit more about shaming, humiliating, cyberbulling, and gender-based abuse. We know how language can be used to hurt and heal, kill and save. You have the knowledge. What will YOU do with it?
Below, there is an article about the practice of bride burning in India along with two videos from India and Afghanistan. Read and watch. Then, comment on what really convicted you: what issues are you most passionate about? How can/will you use your knowledge of the power of language and communication to bring positive change in our world?
Video #1 (India): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtHgTf67hzc
Video #2 (Afghanistan): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2X2hGQ7V_Ro