There is Only One “J”
Joanna, Janet, Jael, and Jeannine are the same woman. While it seems like each woman could be a separate entity, the clues point to them all being one. We discussed in class how Janet is the idealism Joanna lacks, so Joanna “made her [Janet] up” to be the assertive version of herself (Russ, 30). I disagree. I believe Janet, Jael, and Jeannine are all facets of who Joanna is, not necessarily versions she created. Even though Joanna says she made Janet up, this is Joanna’s way of suppressing her true self. All of them are Joanna. Obviously for the ease of the class, they all can’t be named Joanna, but that’s why the names are similar. Inside every woman there are elements of each character. Playing pretend and making personas up are good defense mechanisms to deny realizing Joanna is actually Janet, Jael, and Jeannine. Every woman has to fight the mold to be different than societal stereotypes and expectations; society wants women to be Jeannine. Janet is the ideal image of how women want to be and to be perceived as. She is independent and fierce and completely disrupts the sexist norms of the world. Though we haven’t seen much of the new woman, Jael, it can be presumed she is, for lack of a better word, a badass. She’s primitive in a way, something no woman should be. I think of Jael as the Id, from psychology. She is the persona of desire, wanton, and fixated on instinct. So when, on page 58, Janet “infected the whole house,” her spunk, strength, and feminist ways seeped further into the outward portrayal of Joanna. Joanna no longer can hide the fact she is Janet, and Janet is her.
Mulan‘s “Reflection” describes the struggle of being who you’re expected to be or being your true self. Joanna is having a similar dilemma with figuring out her identity. This song seemed fitting. Joanna just needed a little Mulan in her life. Don’t we all?
Mulan. Dir. Tony Bancroft. Perf. Ming-Na Wen, Eddie Murphy, BD Wong.YouTube. YouTube, LLC, 28 July 2011. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.
Russ, Joanna. The Female Man. Boston: Beacon, 1986. Print.