Archive for the 'women’s history' Category

May 26th 2013
A Modest Proposal: the Defense of Motherhood Act

Posted under American history & Gender & happy endings & the body & women's history

Here’s an excellent suggestion from University of Wisconsin law proffie R. Alta CharoThe Defense of Motherhood Act!  Coming soon to a state legislature near you, if you decide to make it happen:

Having an abortion is a momentous decision. And a growing number of states are expressing concern for women who are contemplating that choice.

.       .       .       .       .

But while states give such solicitous attention to women planning to have an abortion, they ignore the needs of women planning to give birth. Bringing a child into the world is also a life-changing decision. Too many women have to make that choice without similar protections. It is time to demand equality and tell our legislatures to enact the Defense of Motherhood Act.

.       .       .       .       .

Physicians would have to inform pregnant women about the risks of childbirth and motherhood. They would have to note that childbirth, compared with abortion, is roughly 14 times more likely to result in maternal death and is more often associated with depression and other forms of mental illness. They would also have to emphasize that working women in the United States can expect to see their wages drop 9 to 16 percent for each child and that having a child makes it significantly less likely that an unmarried woman will ever marry. Continue Reading »


May 10th 2013
Friday funny: “Divisive gender and quota stuff” is all we do around here.

Posted under American history & art & Gender & happy endings & publication & women's history

Don’t miss the cameo by Elaine Showalter, who appears in this video to restage one of my favorite scenes in American film history. Comedy gold! (Via Sophylou at True Stories Backward.)


May 6th 2013
Monday round-up: endless semester edition

Posted under American history & art & bad language & book reviews & European history & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & race & the body & wankers & women's history

You’ve heard of The Endless Summer?  It sure seems to me like this is the Endless Semester.  Maybe it’s all of the snow and slush in April, but more than any other spring semester in recent memory, this one drags on and on.  While I’m desperately trying to lasso this semester and tie it up real good, here are some fun links and ideas to keep you diverted:


April 24th 2013
Dear Elle Magazine,

Posted under American history & art & Gender & the body & women's history

In an article praising Kim Gordon’s feminist credentials and history of helping other feminist musicians, don’t you think that you could have run a photo of her wearing something on the bottom?  The photo of her is very flattering, especially considering that you report that she is now 59 years old.  But, honestly:  how many high-status men in their 50s or 60s are featured wearing only panties in glossy magazines like yours?

Just askin’,

Historiann Continue Reading »


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 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 8th 2013
Are you there, God? It’s Margaret.

Posted under European history & Gender & jobs & unhappy endings & women's history

A savage handbagging!

It’s a big day for women’s history today as we note the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  Here’s a roundup up some of the things I’ve seen on the non-peer reviewed interwebs:

  • Echidne weighs in on Mags:  “Thatcher was not a feminist, of course.  She is famous for openly disliking feminism, partly because she was blind to what feminism had given her:  The right to run for office, the right to vote.  She believed that her successes were based on nothing but her own talents and her own hard work.  Women’s concerns she brushed off like so much dandruff on the shoulders of her black suit. . . . So what is Thatcher’s legacy for women?  I would imagine that she would be angry at such a question.  Those women, always pestering her when she was nothing like them!  She was one of the boys, or at least a Smurfette among Smurfs.
  • Note:  when Echidne calls Mags a “Smurfette among Smurfs,” she’s not suggesting that her legacy is tiny or mockable.  She’s pointing out that there is only *one* Smurfette among a whole colony of Smurfs, and that Smurfettes therefore tend to spend a lot more time and energy defending their position in the boys’ club rather than opening the door to and making room for more Smurfettes.  Just so that we’re clear on that point. Continue Reading »


April 7th 2013
The empathy gap for those hardworking, white middle-class “men on top?”

Posted under American history & bad language & class & Gender & Intersectionality & race & weirdness & women's history

This essay strikes me as jaw-droppingly weird and pretty stupid.  Susan Jacoby:

WHEN I dream about my father, as I do even though he has been dead for more than a quarter of a century, I always wake up when I hear the crunch of tires rolling over rock salt — an unmistakable sound evoking the winters of my Michigan childhood in the 1950s and early ’60s. Dad, an accountant, would pull his car out of our icy driveway and head for his office long before first light. This was tax season, and he could keep his business and our family financially afloat only by working 80-hour weeks.

You won’t find Bob Jacoby or his unglamorous middle-class, middle-income contemporaries in “Mad Men,” the AMC series beginning its sixth season on Sunday. If we are to believe the message of popular culture, the last men on top — who came of age during World War II or in the decade after it — ran the show at work, at home and in bed.

.       .       .       .       .       .

Nearly all institutional power for 20 years after the war was indeed wielded by the war generation (and eventually by younger men born during the Depression). Yet a vast majority of men possessed limited power that could vanish swiftly if they committed the ultimate sin of failing to bring home a paycheck.  Continue Reading »


April 3rd 2013
Best. Response. Ever.

Posted under American history & Gender & GLBTQ & students & women's history

Donna Brazile to marriage concern trolls:

Perhaps, if I’d had Ms. Patton’s wisdom and foresight about what really matters in college, I wouldn’t have taken so many pesky classes, and instead concentrated on designing my hair, makeup, attire and personality to create the perfect man-catching machine.

Perhaps it would have all worked out exactly as Ms. Patton implies — the perfect house, kids, husband and future. And yet I’m skeptical. I made a lot of stupid decisions in college; I’m really glad the choice of life partner wasn’t one of them. How many people, do you think, could choose a tattoo at 22 years old and still be happy with it by the time they are 50? Let’s be generous here: maybe a quarter of all people? And tattoos don’t even talk. Continue Reading »


« Prev - Next »