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Looking at Miss Bobbit

Posted: September 9, 2014 9:34 p.m.
Updated: September 10, 2014 6:00 a.m.

Saturday, I watched a film adaptation of the short story, “Children on Their Birthdays” by Truman Capote, which is one of my favorite short stories. The film is pretty similar to the book with little to no alterations.

Miss Bobbit, a 10 year-old Southern bell who behaves like a woman exactly as she does in the book, moves to a small Alabama town where she is persistently pursued by best friends Preacher Star and Billy Bob.

After watching the movie, I realized that Miss Bobbit is a strong female character who unintentionally (I guess) helps set a new standard for women in mid 20th century American society -- a standard that projects women as intelligent and strong beings capable of functioning without the direction of men.

Looking at Miss Bobbit with this particular perspective took me back to some topics that were discussed in my feminist theory class at Winthrop. My class and I would often ponder exactly what feminism is and what makes someone a feminist. We would also discuss if the actions of some women in present day (although their choices) still reflect the impact that patriarchy has had on womanhood.

Feminism involves women advocating for women’s rights. Now, Miss Bobbit is not attending women’s rights conferences (not that the readers know of) or standing outside with signs stating her strong interest to be heard. She does, however, try to resist Preacher Star and Billy Bob’s barbaric behavior as they fight over her and try to win her affection as if she were a piece of meat (one of the many demeaning images that patriarchy has established for women in society). Her actions of constant resistance exude her strong desire to make something of herself without the help of a man, which shows her independent nature.

It can definitely be debated that Miss Bobbit is not a strong example of a strong female refusing to abide by the rules and regulations of patriarchy. I suppose she can be viewed as a temptress who unintentionally plucks at the heartstrings of two dueling friends (the temptress being another negative image that has been applied to women).

Also, Miss Bobbit strives to be a performer in Hollywood. Maybe dressed down (as an adult) and gawked at by men for her beauty and bodacious body. However, it is her choice, although her dream of going to Hollywood and making it big is violently stripped away from her.

Miss Bobbit may be a metaphorical piece of meat, but she has her own mind complete with her own ideas. She takes orders from no one and she refuses to just be a trophy on some guy’s arm. She wants to make a name for herself and stand out among the crowd, and she definitely does that in the story. Although she is 10, she is the epitome of a strong female.

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