LWGRC Reading Series Hosts “Self-Preservation and Creating Embodied Boundaries”

By Nicole Rodriguez, Senior Writers

On Monday, March 28, the Lasallian Women and Gender Resource Center (LWGRC)  hosted a student-led discussion entitled “Self-Preservation and Creating Embodied Boundaries” as part of their reading series. 

The event, led by senior Ashley Lawton and junior América Pineda, focused on Carmen Maria Machado’s short story “The Husband Stitch” — a cynical, insidious love story that follows a female protagonist who wears a green ribbon around her neck.

Pineda explained in detail how Machado’s text was not your typical love story, but rather posed questions regarding consent, privacy and the overall female experience for readers.

“It is a fairy tale retelling, but it does have a thriller kind of feeling to it,” said Pineda. “When we learn more about the relationship, the husband is asking his wife about this green ribbon that she’s always had her whole life. He constantly asked her about it and she never really answered his question. She tries to protect her privacy and finally after asking her multiple times again, ‘Can I please untie it? What does it mean?’ she concedes. She says yes. She consents to it and after he unties the ribbon, her head falls off.” 

Pineda also highlighted the significance of the title of Machado’s text itself. 

“Generally, [a ‘husband stitch’ is] like an extra stitch that doctors will sometimes give women most times without their consent, without them even knowing and it was deemed to be more pleasurable for the male, but extremely painful for the female,” said Pineda. “Oftentimes, they wouldn’t be able to have regular sex, or sexual intercourse, or sometimes it would even affect the reproductive system so it was a really harmful, misogynistic thing that was done to women who literally just gave birth to a child and are in a completely vulnerable situation.” 

Those in attendance were encouraged throughout the guided discussion to use a feminist lens to critically analyze Machado’s plot, define consent and learn about the unique boundaries that inform women’s experiences.

“The mission of the LWGRC Reading Series is to create a space to speculate, discuss, explore, analyze and appreciate the work of feminist authors,” Lawton said. “It is our hope that the discussion participants use this space to contextualize their own experiences and lives through a continuous dialogue. The goal of this series is to bring a culture of appreciation and intersectional thinking to our campus.”

To facilitate a continuous dialogue, guidelines were set for the discussion which included avoiding debating, assumptions about others and generalizations about everyone’s experiences. Attendees were instead prompted to try to learn from one another, build on each other’s ideas and to be constructive. 

Junior Marina More Andres shared her experience having attended the event and detailed the value of holding this kind of discourse on campus. 

“I attended the discussion to learn more about the story and see other people’s opinions and views on it. Going to these types of events, you learn other people’s opinions, you have different ideas about things based on what they say, you ask yourself questions on topics, and I think that’s very important,” More Andres said. 

Anyone interested in submitting a story for the reading series can email their suggestions to alawton01@manhattan.edu.

“Please submit texts,” Lawton said. “If there was something that stood out in your classes like, I can still tell you stuff that I read freshman year because of the impact that it had on me,  reach out and tell me who the professor was that assigned it. I would be happy to either work with that student or work with the professor and we can totally do something with it.”