Archive for October, 2010

October 18th 2010
Prof. Pushbutton to the rescue!

Posted under American history & students & technoskepticism & unhappy endings

Reader and commenter truffula sent this along last week.  She writes, “A colleague dared me to send the attached page from the January 1960 issue of Popular Science to our [University] President via campus mail.  Not that he needs any encouragement from the rabble.”  I thought you all might enjoy this glimpse of futures past, since many of you live with its ghosts (“distance education,” on-line classes, “concurrent enrollment,” and whatever brilliant moneysaving or -making scheme they think of next.) Continue Reading »


October 17th 2010
Why must women’s colleges exist? A personal reflection

Posted under childhood & class & Gender & GLBTQ & race & students & wankers & women's history

This could be a very short post, with my answer being because they p!$$ off and disturb so many people!  But I’ll take the time to explain, for those of you who are curious.  As some of you recall, I linked to Tenured Radical’s series last week on the role of women’s colleges in women’s education, and jumped into the fray of the comments threads as well.  Knitting Clio has posted some further thoughts on this subject too–I objected to her raising the issue of class privilege rather than addressing the questions TR had asked, but she insists that we need to talk about the role of feminist education in co-educational institutions too.

This particularly heated comment thread–44 comments so far!–concludes with Dr. Cleveland writing, “This has been an amazing thread.  I’ll admit that I needed my eyes opened to how much resistance there is to the mission of women’s colleges. It’s shocking to witness. But it also makes a very strong case for why women’s colleges are still very, very necessary. If TR hadn’t persuaded me, the hostility of some of the commenters toward women’s education would have.”  I’ve been thinking about this all week long, and would like to share my personal experiences of my attendance as an undergraduate and brief affiliation as a faculty member with women’s colleges. 

When I enrolled in a women’s college 24 years ago, I wasn’t expecting that it would be all that different from any other small, liberal-arts college.  But I was wrong–not so much in the way that it functioned or educated me, but in the way that other people reacted to the existence of women’s colleges and to the fact that I attended one.  I came to understand that my college represented something deeply threatening to other people, most of whom were men.

As a freshman, I had a boyfriend from back home who had strange fantasies about what a women’s college meant for the everyday lives of students.  He’d say things like, “You’re all women in the dorm, why don’t you all just walk around naked all of the time?  Why do you need bathrobes?”  “Do you just sit in your dorm rooms topless?  Do you touch each other, and give each other hugs and kisses?”  Continue Reading »


October 16th 2010
Campaigning while female, 2010

Posted under American history & Gender & unhappy endings & wankers & women's history

OK, OK, I know I said I’d stay out of it because I’m so disgusted by this campaign season, but I just can’t let some of the misogyny deployed against women candidates this year go without comment.  Now, let’s be clear:  I would never vote for Christine O’Donnell, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Delaware.  I think she’s desperately unqualified, and not very bright.  However, when have you ever seen coverage of a male politician like this, courtesy of Rebecca Dana at The Daily Beast?

“She baked me cookies once,” said Paul Angelini, her old neighbor in the city’s Little Italy district. He remembered O’Donnell as sweet, but the cookies as inedible. “Chocolate chip. They were burnt. They were terrible, really.”

Angelini lived with a few pals in a three-bedroom rowhouse nicknamed “the frat house,” and O’Donnell would swing by from time to time to chat. “We probably flirted a little bit with her, and she flirted a little bit back, that sort of thing.”

She would lounge on her front porch in her pajamas some weekends, smoking cigars and drinking wine with a girlfriend. She doted on her cats, but was not always fastidious about her housekeeping, according to neighborhood gossip passed along by her former housekeeper, Pam.She feuded bitterly with the woman next door. And, neighbors couldn’t help but note, for a candidate who’s been so vocally opposed to any pre-marital sexual activity, O’Donnell had frequent overnight visits from her boyfriend Brent, a Philadelphia lawyer who bought her house just before it went into foreclosure and still owns it to this day.

.       .       .       .       .       .       

The magnitude of O’Donnell’s ambition irked some of her old neighbors. Continue Reading »


October 15th 2010
As if there aren’t enough wealthy white men in politics

Posted under American history & bad language & class & fluff & Gender & race & unhappy endings & weirdness

Rich whities in their natural habitat

I laughed so hard I almost did a spit take on my morning newspaper when I saw this story about a mistake in a candidate’s name on Chicago voting machines:

It’s the typo to end all typos: Illinois gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney’s name is misspelled as “Rich Whitey” on some electronic-voting machines in Chicago, and officials say the problem can’t be fixed before election day.

Maybe he should have stuck with “Richard,” or chosen “Dick” or “Rick” as a nickname.  (I’m not blaming the victim–I’m just sayin’.)


October 14th 2010
Up to my neck in work, buttercream ruffles

Posted under art & childhood & fluff & local news & women's history

Reader and commenter Susan sent this photo (via Cakewrecks)–and that about sums it up for me today.  I’m up to my neck in unmarked papers, unreviewed manuscripts, and unblurbed books, all of which need my attention immediatement, but I’m trying to achieve a barbie-like smiling serenity about it all.

I was a big fan of doll cakes as a little girl–I think I had at least a few when I was growing up.  My mother was a big Wilton cake method devotee–her favorite tube was the star, and she’d spend hours painstakingly baking and decorating my brother’s and my birthday fantasies to order with thousands of tiny, squeezed on stars.  This made for a busy, hand-exhausting week for her at the end of every summer, since our birthdays were only one week apart.  I remember a clown, a teddy bear, doll cakes, and once a cake sliced and decorated to look like a rainbow emerging from the clouds.  I think my brother ordered a lot of baseball cakes.  Continue Reading »


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