December 3, 2012

Native American Women as Shrill

For my final SCD, I am continuing my analysis of Heilbrun's Writing a Woman's Life. When I read Johnson's A Strong Race Opinion, it reminded me a lot of Heilbrun and her idea of shrillness in women's writing. Heilbrun said that women are always thought to be shrill and overrun with their emotions. That's how they are portrayed in literature, and that is how they have portrayed themselves. Johnson details how everyone stereotypes the Native American woman as even more shrill than just the typical woman:

 She is always the daughter of a chief, signaling that she is somewhat royalty in her tribe, yet she is not content. This is why, upon meeting a white explorer, she falls head over heels in love with him (had she been content in her tribe, she would have probably already been happily married). The white man and Indian woman never marry in these stories.

I thought it was interesting how this furthered Heilbrun's claim of women as shrill, because it shows how true this stereotype really is. What I find interesting is that, at the end of Johnson's piece, she says she'd rather just be seen as a regular woman if the writer's can't get Native American women correct in their descriptions. I wonder if Johnson realizes that all women are stereotyped in this shrill, hopeless romantic way, and that being identified as just a woman may produce eerily similar results.

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