Shake + It + Off

Whatever you think of Taylor Swift, she’s always had a knack of being able to laugh at herself. T Swizzle has a new look and a new album coming out. Of course, Taylor Swift has gone through lots of looks and styles, from country to pop, from “gangsta” to hipster. Should people be critical of her most recent change, or should people think that she should just shake off all this criticism? What are your thoughts about her newest vibe?


I stay up too late
Got nothing in my brain
That’s what people say
That’s what people say
I go on too many dates
But I can’t make them stay
At least that’s what people say
That’s what people say
But I keep cruising
Can’t stop, won’t stop moving
It’s like I got this music
In my mind, saying it’s gonna be alright
Cause the players gonna play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate
Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake
Shake it off
Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break
And I think it’s gonna fake, fake, fake
Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake
Shake it off, Shake it off


“What’s Missing in Miss America’s Response”

The Miss America 2014 Top 15 Semi-Finalists (Picture Originally from

A Tale of Two Debates

Last week, social media exploded after the Miss America Pageant. Users complained either how terrible feminists were or how terrible Miss America’s answer was. But what was actually said?

Miss Nevada was asked the following question:

Recently Time Magazine said 19% of U.S. undergraduate women are victims of sexual assault in college. Why has such a horrific epidemic been swept under the rug for so long, and what can colleges do to combat this? [1]

Miss Nevada Nia Sanche replied with this statement:

I believe some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation, and that would be a reason that it could be swept under the rug because they don’t want it to come out into the public, but I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself as a fourth degree black belt, I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and being able to defend yourself, and I think that’s something we should start to implement for a lot of women. [2]

Miss Nevada Nia Sanche (Picture originally from

6 Things to Consider

There were various, emotional responses to what Miss Nevada Nia Sanche said. Some people supported and defended her, while others were outraged. Social media exploded with countless posts and comments based on Sanche’s two sentences. Here are six things to consider:

1. Under Pressure

During question time of the Miss America Pageant, perhaps the contestants feel pressured or put on the spot. They get nervous, they say stupid things, or they don’t think their argument all the way through.

Additionally, these women are probably not members of the debate team; they don’t have the time to go into the depth needed for these issues. Would you ever hear “I defend this position because of Reasons A, B, and C. Oh, and here are Counterarguments 1, 2, and 3 and all the reasons why those ideas are indubitably incorrect”? Probably not.

2. Money, Money, Money—Isn’t Funny

Self-defense is a good thing. Martial arts would be great for all women to take. But it’s expensive. Who is going to pay for self-defense classes?

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “About half of all rape victims are in the lowest third of income distribution; half are in the upper two-thirds.[3] Working class women, including single mothers and women with lower income, would need child care, compensation for the hours missed from work, or both. However, even if free classes were provided on a weekend or later in the evenings, who would pay for those classes? And how would attendance be enforced?

Providing self-defense classes on college campuses are a complex issue. Even if a class is offered, some students may not be able to afford the additional costs to take the class. The costs for student loans, textbooks, food, car insurance, gas, and ever-increasing tuition take a huge chunk out of a student’s pocket. Also, the student may not have the time to take the credits, especially if the student is trying to graduate early.

Could universities and colleges all provide free self-defense classes? Sanche stated she had a fourth degree black belt—something that takes great skill but also a lot of time. How effective would one self-defense class be? Would there need to be a series of free classes?

Just stating that women need self-defense leads to more questions and issues that would need to be resolved. It is not a simple solution.

And change can happen. Unfortunately, rape occurs. But all of us can work on decreasing those numbers. Educating men and women can affect change.

3. Women Are Human, Too

The “that raped woman is someone’s mother, sister, daughter” technique isn’t working.

Obama is reported to have said, “We know our economy is stronger when our wives, mothers, and daughters can live their lives free from discrimination in the workplace and free from the fear of domestic violence.”[4] Because of this statement, Obama was criticized for using the “Father-Knows-Best,” outdated rhetoric. Many people, including our president, have used this language. That needs to change.

Some women are sisters. Some women are mothers. Some women are daughters. But all women are human. Because we are human, both men and women should be treated respectfully.

Bernini, “Il Ratto di Proserpina” (“The Rape of Proserpina”)

4. Change: An Education

Many Twitter users were furious with Sanche’s response, claiming that she encouraged rape culture or was telling men that it was okay to rape. Others responded that rape has occurred since the beginning of time and will continue to occur, following the “boys will be boys” mentality.

But can’t we still push for men not to rape? People are often confused about what counts as rape or when it is okay. In America, we are obsessed with sex, but never really want to talk about it. Parents need to be better at communicating with children, both male and female, about sex and rape. There ought to be more open discussion in schools and colleges about rape.

5. Understanding What Counts as Rape

When does rape occur? Rape occurs if a male physically holds down a woman and forces her to have sex with him or if a man forces any type of non-consensual sexual relations. It still counts as rape even if any of the following occurs:

  • He spent a lot of money on her.
  • He is so turned on he thinks he can’t stop.
  • She previously had sexual intercourse with other men.
  • She is stoned or drunk.
  • She has any mental disabilities.
  • She lets him touch her above the waist.
  • She is going to and changes her mind.
  • She has supposedly led him on.
  • The man is sexually stimulated.
  • They have dated for a long time.
  • They are engaged.
  • They are married. [5]

Mad Men, “The Mountain King” (Season 2 / Episode 12) After repeatedly saying no, Joan is raped by her fiancé.

6. The Facts

Rape is not an issue about whether it’s good or it’s bad. But many people don’t realize that rape is not just physical assaults. Rape involves additional issues, such as the mentality about, objectification of, and violence against women. Rape is about power and control, not love and understanding.

But rape doesn’t always occur when a woman is attacked on her way home from work. There’s date rape, and if a woman is unconscious, knowing martial arts isn’t going to help her.

Often, the survivor of rape culture knows the rapist, whether it is a boyfriend, husband, lover, coworker, family member, etc. For example, “Of female rape or sexual assault victims in 2010, 25 percent were assaulted by a stranger, 48 percent by friends or acquaintances, and 17 percent were intimate partners.”[6] Approximately two-thirds of rape survivors know their rapist. Survivors are often manipulated and must deal with scarring emotional trauma.

The age of raped survivors varies. Of course, rape on campus is a huge problem. But rape survivors include underage women: “5% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12; 29% are age 12-17; 44% are under age 18; 80% are under age 30; ages 12-34 are the highest risk years.” [7]

Rape isn’t always reported: “The FBI estimates that only 46% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police. U.S. Justice Department statistics are even lower, with only 26% of all rapes or attempted rapes being reported to law enforcement officials.”[8]These hard facts are horrible but true.

 So What’s Missing?

What’s missing from Miss America’s response—and the responses of many social media users—is that we need more education, more encouragement for survivors, more prevention, more access for recovery, more understanding, more open communication, and more opportunities to fight this terrible injustice. Being sensitive of the struggles that these women suffer is vital for communication to happen.

People often trivialize rape culture. They don’t understand it—they don’t even try. Pause before a statement is blurred by frustration or ignorance. Some of us may not be able to empathize entirely with what’s it’s like to be a rape survivor. But we can and must try to understand.

Let’s talk together, listening and opening our hearts without judgment and hate. Make survivors feel like they are heard by recognizing rape culture as a complex, emotional experience that real humans suffer.

Let’s talk to survivors, not tell them what to do.

Let’s talk.

For More Information:

Listed originally on, the following websites list valid statistics about abused women:





[3](See more facts and statistics at



[6](See more facts and statistics at

[7](See more facts and statistics at

[8](See more facts and statistics at

The Forgotten Tulip

The Forgotten Tulip series experiments with various perspectives. My favourite aspect is the intense colours. These photos reveal different tones of a dead flower struggling for its last chance at survival.

There is vibrancy in colour.

There is elegance in simplicity.

There is beauty in suffering.

There is strength in silence.

There is profundity in the forgotten.

Please, do share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below. Enjoy. . .


the bbb blogger





















To Instruct and Delight the Reader or To Expand Radically the Reader’s Role

To Instruct and Delight the Reader or To Expand Radically the Reader’s Role

The nature of rhetorical criticism, as Sonja K. Foss explains, occurs in our day-to-day lives. Because “[h]ow we perceive, what we know, what we experience, and how we act are the results of the symbols we create and the symbols we encounter in the world,” consequently, “we engage in a process of thinking about symbols, discovering how they work, and trying to figure out why they affect us” (Foss 3). As a result, “[w]e choose to communicate particular ways based on what we have discovered” (3). In addition to observing symbols in daily life, we, as readers, also decide how literature influences us or how we interpret literature. Rhetorical criticism studies how the audience is impacted by literature, whether the purpose of literature is to instruct, delight, inform, persuade, and so on.

The reader’s role is redefined from Horace to Iser in two major categories. First, classical or traditional theorists suggest that literature’s goal is to entertain or instruct the reader. Second, modern theorists suggest a more radical and active role of the reader in addition to expanding upon traditional theories in conjunction with other modern theories. Consequently, when the role of the reader changes across time for various theorists, the function of literature is redefined, which will be shown throughout this essay in response to various theorists. Literature evolves in several steps progressing from deciding what is to be “good” literature and what is thought to be morally uplifting to expanding the possibilities of reading.


Horace and Longinus emphasized the importance of instructing and delighting the reader. Horace claimed that “[p]oets aim either to do good or to give pleasure” (Leitch 130), and poets who are able to do this are “knowledgeable in the craft of poetry and observant of the principles of decorum,” which is “the discernment and use of appropriateness, propriety, proportion, and unity in the arts” (120). However, the reader does pass judgment if they boo the performances off stage. Horace knows the importance of whether or not a “work [is] approved by the fried-peas-and-nuts public” (128). Therefore, “[t]he pleasure of poetry for readers and theater audiences should be joined to practical and moral instructions embodied in the work, though Horace seems more preoccupied with delight and careful craft than with moral uplift” (121).

Longinus also focuses on how “sublimity uplifts the spirit of the reader, . . . arousing noble thoughts, and suggesting more than words can convey” (133). Longinus differs from Horace, who “coolly stresses rhetorical strategies rather than the erratic genius of authors” (134). Yet Longinus follows the tradition of Aristotle because although “Longinus considers the emotional psychology of the author as well as that of the audience” (135), both Longinus and Aristotle “take note of the formal techniques and psychological effects of literature” (134). Longinus places emphasis on the reader by dissecting how sublimity affects the audience. This is seen in Book 7, or the tests of the sublime, because Longinus suggests these tests on the craft of the text to determine whether or not it is able affect the audience.


Both Sidney and Johnson find instructing and delighting the reader important but focus on the instruction of morals. Sidney argues that poesy has “this end: to teach and delight” (Leitch 258), almost mimicking Horace word for word. Sidney copies Horace when he says that art should educate and entertain, but Sidney emphasizes that art should teach morality. The power of poetry rests in the fact that it is appealing to readers; the more entertaining the reading, the more likely readers are likely to listen to the morals. As Sidney explains, “Only the poet, disdaining to be tied to any such subjection, lifted up with the vigour of his own invention, doth grow in effect into another nature, in making things either better than nature bringeth forth or, quite anew, forms such as never were in nature” (257).

Poetry can make people better because the work of the poet “seem to have some divine force in it” (256), and the poet “showeth so much as in poetry, when, with the force of a divine breath, he bringeth things forth surpassing her doings” (258). Sidney makes the poet almost quasi-divine, since the poet becomes a creator with a god-like imagination. Poetry also has great political import. Sidney’s audience is courtly, focusing on the humanist potential of educating potential rulers for leadership.

Approximately two hundred years later, Dr. Samual Johnson, who “was an intense, discerning reader” (363), would argue about the importance of poetry conveying intense morality. Johnson considered “[p]oetry . . . the highest learning” (371) and thought poetry should “teach us what we may hope, and what we can perform” and emphasized the necessity of showing vice to “always disgust” (370). Johnson believed in absolute virtue or vice; because “the power of example is so great, as to take possession of the memory by a kind of violence, and produce effects almost without the intervention of the will, care ought to be taken that, when the choice is unrestrained, the best examples only should be exhibited” (369).

A poet’s job became essentially to select truths most beneficial to society: “The chief advantage which these fictions have over real life is, that heir authors are at liberty . . . to select objects, and to cull the mass of mankind” (369). While Sidney’s audience was courtly, Johnson’s audience was the youth (“That the highest degree of reverence should be paid to the youth, and that nothing indecent should be suffered to approach their eyes or ears” [368]). The printing press enabled the mass production of literature. Johnson believed in educating the masses through literature or poetry, while Sidney’s audience was that of a tiny percentile of educated males in court. Therefore, Sidney aimed at moralizing the (already) elite.


In “Death of the Author,” modern critic Barthes displaces the notion of the author and emphasizes the birth of the reader; this perspective, in turn, contributes to critiquing liberal humanism and impacts literary studies by challenging universal truth and what it means to be human. Barthes embodies “a transition from structuralism to poststructuralist perspective” through offering a “more relativistic assessments of texts and their role in culture” (Habib 72). By focusing on language, meaning of the text is established by the reader through looking at relations because meaning belongs only in the realm of the reader. But meaning is constantly evaporating because a person cannot fix meaning.

As Barthes explains, “To give a text an author is to impose a limit on that text” (Richter 877). Yet the death of the author is also the death of the critic, which implicates literary criticism. A critic deciphers the text, its words and meanings, but “[i]n the multiplicity of writing, everything is to be disentangled” (Richter 877) because the reader is disentangling the culture and language. The difference is that the critic is decrypting to find meaning, while Barthes’s reader experiences the joy of multiplicity by creating meaning as opposed to decrypting authorial meaning.

There are implications for Barthes’s reader, since there is no fixed subject, because if you as a reader arrive at meaning, then you have misunderstood the text. Barthes explains, “[A] text is not a line of words releasing a single ‘theological’ meaning (the ‘message’ of the Author-God) but a multidimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash” (Richter 876). There is no there there because there is no fixed meaning in the text.

As a result, Barthes’s post-structuralist critique has impacted literary studies of reading literature. Readers are entitled to have their opinions. Because there are a greater variety of opinions, there are two possible results. First, readers could be more tolerant or accepting of different interpretations. However, the second result comes from human nature interacting in society. As people develop more opinions, these opinions will become more separate, and greater diversity will occur. Factions will result, and readers will become more defensive of their interpretations. The risk will be more fighting instead of greater tolerance of different interpretations.

Another post-structuralist influence on literary studies could fall under reading the Bible as literature in university settings. Because there will be a million different readings, there will be a million different meanings, which will then open up the reader to believing whatever. When readers read the Bible as literature, people are more likely to believe in no absolute eternal truth. Readers will read the Bible and then reinterpret its teachings. Both of these examples counter against the liberal humanist tradition of universal truth. The death of the author also impacts the anthology because it blows up the studies of literature. No female, gay, African American, or Asian literatures were included in the anthology, but now they are included. These new inclusions of diverse writings challenge liberal humanism by showing that there is not only one way to be human.


Iser offers a distinct way of understanding readers and their relationships to a work of art by drawing on a phenomenological engagement with the text; Iser operates within a Husserlian framework when considering dynamic relations, while also moving beyond that framework in the search for truth. Although it is difficult to define, phenomenology is the process of analysis that makes dynamic relations of an object of study. Husserl, who reacted against Neo-Kantians, maps out the relationship of world, body, and mind.

Iser’s reader response theory does follow “the phenomenological approaches to literature, which focuses on literature as it is experienced by the thinking subject, the ‘I’ in the center of our conscious world” (Richter 972). Iser’s duality, however, centers in a text between two poles: “the artistic refers to the text created by the author, and the esthetic to the realization accompanied by the reader” (1002). It is through the “convergence of text and reader” that “brings the literary work into existence … not to be identified either with the reality of the text or with the individual disposition of the reader” (1002).

Both Husserl and Iser view the process of relation as dynamic. For Husserl, pure consciousness is looking at the actual set of relations of phenomena between the consciousness of the subject and the object. As a result, pure phenomenology becomes a dynamic relation, which is the object of analysis. Phenomenological reduction involves stripping down all cultural baggage—the body—and material reality—the world. The mind then becomes limitless by getting away from the tyranny of the particular, which enables pure consciousness to occur and humans to control the construction of the world subjectively. Iser believes that reading is dynamic (Habib 155). Iser quotes Husserl’s idea of “pretentions, which construct and collect the seed of what is to come, as such, and bring it to fruition” because “the literary text needs the reader’s imagination,” and in a text, “individual sentences work together” and “form an expectation” (Richter 1004) for the reader.

However, for Husserl, refuting the Kantian particular categories and following the processes of pure reflection will reveal the universal, or in other words, truth—but only within the individual’s mind. In contrast, Iser moves beyond the Husserlian framework because he argues that truth will actually change because we, the readers, are constantly changing. Readers find “‘interpretation[s]’ threatened . . . by the presence of other possibilities of ‘interpretation’” because readers “become more directly aware of them” through “shifting of perspective that makes [readers] feel that a novel is much more ‘true-to-life’” (Richter 1010). Therefore, Iser argues that readers will find different truths depending on the associations of where the reader converges with the text. As a result, the function of literature changes from being dogmatically moral (think Johnson) to being more open in its various purposes for informing the readers on the variety of truths that can be gleaned from its pages.


Iser and Fish also contrast each other when speaking of the reader. Iser claims that through the reader’s imagination, each time a reader approaches a text, there is the possibility to discover new things with new perspectives from each reader. Iser insists readers want to know the consciousness of what to discuss. The relationship between the reader and the text is a dynamic process because “[a]s the reader passes through the various perspectives offered by the text, and relates the different views and patterns to one another, he sets the work in motion, and so sets himself in motion, too” (Leitch 1524).

As readers change their perspective, they connect the texts and fill in the gaps because “the situations and convention regulate the manner in which the gaps are filled, but the gaps in turn arise out of the inexperience ability, and consequently, function as a basic inducement to communication” (Leitch 1526). Some critics, such as Fish, find Iser’s work vague and believe that there would be an infinite amount of interpretations of the text; however, this is not true, and “[m]eaning is constantly revised in a process that Iser compares to the feedback loop” (1522) or the hermeneutic circle. For Iser, the work of art is not just art; the work of art is also something that we, the readers, will experience and tell each other about.

In contrast, Fish claims that the text, which really does not matter, disappears in the larger cultural context in relation to the community experience. For example, Fish says, “An author hazards his projection, not because of something ‘in’ the marks, but because of something he assumes to be in his reader” (Leitch 1992). Consequently, “The very existence of the ‘marks is a function of an interpretive community, for they will be recognized . . . only by its members,” while people not in that particular interpretive community will use different strategies “and will therefore be making different marks” (1992). The work disappears (“I have made the text disappear, but unfortunately the problems do not disappear with it” [1992]) in the context of community. Objective and subjective become meaningless. As a result, reader experience is all that remains, suggesting the text disappears in the context of experience.

Both Iser and Fish have made significant contributions to theory and to the study of literature because perhaps “prominent modes of criticism in the past could ignore the role of the reader since they tacitly assumed that there was one kind of reader (i.e., white, male, and the recipient of a privileged education” (1523). Iser’s and Fish’s work has undoubtedly influenced the ability to allow a variety of reading perspectives from readers, female and minority groups, that have not had a voice before.


Rhetorical criticism occurs in the area between the audience and the text. In the “Introduction” of David H. Richter’s The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends, Richter shows that while “[a] mimetic critic . . . might enjoin an aspiring poet to observe human nature well, the more accurately to imitate human actions in his poetry,” “[a] rhetorical critic might advise the poet in the very same words, but in order to prompt the poet to discover what pleases the various classes and age groups that comprise his audience” (3). Ultimately, rhetorical criticism, which was prominent from the classic era of Rome, Medieval times, the Enlightenment era, and modern times, aims at looking at the ways a text instructs, delights, and moves an audience. Unmistakably, rhetorical criticism is a timeless issue that is revisited over and over again.

Works Cited

Barthes, Roland. “The Death of the Author.” The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends. 3rd ed. Ed. David H. Richter. New York: St. Martin’s, 2007. Print.

Fish, Stanley E. “Interpreting the Variorum.” The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010. Print.

Foss, Sonja K. Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration & Practice. Waveland & Press, Inc.: Long Grove, 2009. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.

Habib, M. A. R. Modern Literary Criticism and Theory: A History. Victoria: Blackwell Publishing, 2008. Print.

Horace. “Ars Poetica.” The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010. Print.

Iser, Wolfgang. “Interaction between Text and Reader.” The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010.

Iser, Wolfgang. “The Reading Process: A Phenomenological Approach.” The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends. 3rd ed. Ed. David H. Richter. New York: St. Martin’s, 2007. Print.

Johnson, Samuel. The Rambler, No. 4. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010. Print.

Johnson, Samuel. The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010. Print.

Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010. Print.

Longinus. On Sublimity. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010. Print.

Richter, David H. The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends. 3rd ed. New York: St. Martin’s, 2007. Print.

Sidney, Sir Philip. Defense of Poetry. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010. Print.

Under the Magnolia Tree

I experimented by photographing various shots of the same magnolia tree. I hoped to create different moods with different photographs.  Love how the first one turned out!

Photography can capture so many different, complicated emotions. Real life love and relationships are also complicated and various.  How did you feel when you fell love? Is it different now? How has it changed? 😀

Hope you are all having a beautiful spring!   ❤

magnolia tree 1.0


magnolia tree 8.0


magnolia tree 2.0



magnolia tree 3.0


magnolia tree 5.0


magnolia tree 6.0

Que Sera Sera

Que Sera Sera

Sir Walter Scott said the following:

“I will suppose that you have no friends to share or rejoice in your success in life,—that you cannot look back to those to whom you owe gratitude, or forward to those to whom you ought to afford protection; but it is no less incumbent on you to move steadily in the path of duty; for your active exertions are due not only to society, but in humble gratitude to the Being who made you a member of it, with powers to serve yourself and others.”

Photo Cred: C.A.H, October 2013
Sir Walter Scott Monument
Edinburgh, Scotland