Archive for April, 2013

April 18th 2013
Women on the Warpath!

Posted under American history & Gender & jobs & women's history

The Willow Run B-24 bomber manufactory in 1943:

What’s fascinating about this film is the almost-unprecedented use of some women’s patriotic labor to shame other American women:  “Some still window-shopped, not hearing the first call.  Others played golf, idled golden hours away when every moment was precious.  Even domestic duties lost their importance.”  Continue Reading »


April 17th 2013
Wednesday round-up: What I saw at the OAH

Posted under American history & class & conferences & European history & Gender & GLBTQ & Intersectionality & jobs & race & the body

Attending a big conference like the Organization of American Historians is fun, especially when it’s in an pleasant place like San Francisco in the spring in mid-April.  What I do is so marginal to the OAH conference that I’ve got lots of free time to attend panels and hear how experts in other subfields talk about their work, explore the city with old friends, and go to parties!  Here are some observations and lessons learned, in no particular order:

  • No matter how big the conference, you will never see some people, and you will continue to run into the same people again and again.  Aside from the few early American feminists I kept running into at some of the same panels, over the course of three days every time I strolled through the hotel lobby or some of the other open spaces I saw either Roy Ritchie or Alice Kessler-Harris.  I also never saw a colleague of mine who was there the whole time–not even at a distance.
  • “Early America” now goes through most of the antebellum period, at least according to the OAH.  Stop fighting it, Historiann and others who specialize in anything before the nineteenth century!  I think I witnessed the single paper that included anything on the seventeenth century.  These are now like the Dodo–and not even in much greater evidence at conferences like the Omohundro Institute annual conference.  (Speaking of which:  did you hear that they cancelled their party scheduled for Friday night when they learned that they had booked it in a club that doesn’t offer membership to women?  Good for them, but that’s quite a huge loss on the party, in addition to what’s surely a major donor problem now.)
  • (Aside on the temporal issue:  I keep hearing that The Sixteenth Century Society is a fun group, and their understanding of the long sixteenth century is pretty long, from 1450 to 1660.  Your thoughts?  I was becoming kind of a semi-regular at the Western Society for French History and French Historical Studies, so I’m all for going European if that’s what it will take.)
  • My source inside the Journal of American History editorial board meeting said Continue Reading »


April 15th 2013
Susan Brownmiller comments on Faludi & Firestone: “You need nerves of steel to stay in for the long haul in a radical political movement.”

Posted under American history & Gender & women's history


Susan Brownmiller left a comment on the previous post that I thought many of you would be interested in seeing.  She is highly critical of the article that Susan Faludi wrote for the New Yorker about Shulamith Firestone‘s contributions to radical feminism in the 1960s and 70s, both in its judgment and its appearance fairly recently after Firestone’s death.  Be sure to read the whole thing in full, but here’s some flava:

For the record, I chose not to speak to Faludi for her New Yorker piece because I said all I cared to say about Shulie Firestone in my movement memoir “In Our Time”(1999), and I thought it was disgraceful that Faludi was going to parse Firestone’s paranoid schizophrenia for a popular audience so soon after her death. One of Shulie’s paranoid delusions in 1970 when she abruptly quit New York Radical Feminists was that my consciousness-raising group and I were plotting a coup against her. For some reason Faludi decided that this particular delusion was actually true. It wasn’t true, although Shulie repeated it many times over the next few years to anyone who’d listen–. . . .

.       .       .       .       .       .

Faludi leaves out all the wonderful things New York Radical Feminists accomplished after Firestone’s departure– most notably our Speak-Out on Rape and our Conference on Rape in 1971, two events that helped forge a new national consciousness on rape and the sexual abuse of children. Yes, there were unstable people in the radical feminist movement, as there have been unstable people in all political movements. Sometimes grandiose ideological visionaries destroy movements– as Weatherman destroyed the New Left– but generally they just self-destruct, as poor Shulie did before “The Dialectic of Sex was published. As for the infighting, that goes with the territory. You need nerves of steel to stay in for the long haul in a radical political movement.

And now for the correction:  Continue Reading »


April 10th 2013
Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

Posted under American history & Gender & women's history

. . . not at least until you’ve read Susan Faludi’s fascinating review of radical feminism in the late 1960s and early 70s and one of its stars, Shulamith Firestone.

One of the recurrent themes in modern history is the association between revolution and mental illness–as both a political attack from the right and as a lived reality.  Some of the most radical Whigs in the American Revolution–the kind who supported women’s rights, for example!–were accused of suffering from revolutionary spirit as from a mental illness, the “contagion of liberty.”  James Otis, Jr., for example, the ardent Whig and brother of Mercy Otis Warren, was one of them.

So too radical feminism had its visionaries who, as Faludi suggests, “helped to create a new society.  But [Firestone] couldn’t live in it.”  After struggling with mental illness for at least thirty years, Firestone’s body was discovered last summer in her Greenwich Village apartment apparently several days after her death: Continue Reading »


April 9th 2013
Welcome to Potterville!

Posted under fluff & local news

Photo by Fratguy

Now git along, little doggies.  Here’s what our backyard looks like this afternoon, amidst the very disappointing snowmageddon: Continue Reading »


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