Search Results for "bullying"

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 »

55 Comments »

October
12th 2010
Coming out/It Gets Better stories

Posted under American history & childhood & Gender & GLBTQ & students

Because of Tenured Radical’s series on women’s colleges and feminist education, I missed that yesterday was national Coming Out Day, which this year is being linked by a number of bloggers and writers to Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project .  A number of my regular faves had special posts on this, but I wanted to highlight two especially moving stories.  First, Rose at Romantoes has a wonderful tribute to a high school friend of hers, Jay, who suffered shocking amounts of bullying in high school.  His is an important story to read now because as Rose writes, “it’s not always kids doing the bullying.”

One of my best friends all through school growing up came out after we started college.  That wasn’t much of a surprise to anybody, but of course that doesn’t make it any easier for someone to come out.  And for years he had been bullied, harassed, and tormented about being gay…but importantly, not ever, to my knowledge, by his peers.

In many ways I think he’d escaped that kind of treatment by other kids because he was just so damned charming and funny.  I mean, he was truly the funniest person I have ever known.  He was witty, punny, and could stage some of the best practical jokes imaginable with the straightest of faces.  He was also incredibly smart, musically gifted, and genuinely gregarious.  I really credit him for making my own time in high school as easy as it was–somehow, he single-handedly made it cool to be a nerd.

So who was doing the bullying?  Teachers.

People talk about three-hanky movies and novels, but have you ever seen a three-hanky blog post?  Keep your tissues close at hand, friends, for this next one too.  Fannie at Fannie’s Room offers a brave and moving account of her childhood–her growing awareness of her lesbian identity and gender-nonconformity, and the simultaneous terrible realization that being gay means facing the loathing and disgust of her family, friends, and peers at school.  Here are just a few snippets:

I am in first grade and am walking down the hall with my best friend. I reach out to take her hand.

She pulls her hand away in horror, saying, “What are you, queer?”

Last year, in kindergarten, this was okay. Today, I learned that there are new rules. I have also learned that whatever queer is, I Am Definitely Not That. Continue Reading »

21 Comments »

December
31st 2009
“A Girl’s Life”

Posted under American history & art & childhood & class & Gender & race & students & the body & women's history

smashpatriarchyI watched Rachel Simmons’ A Girl’s Life last night on PBS.  It offered four in-depth profiles of girls from different class and ethnic backgrounds facing four different major challenges in adolescence today:  body image, cyber bullying, violence among girls, and academic achievement.  Interestingly, there was no discussion of sexuality whatsoever–neither homosexuality nor heterosexuality.

My one word review?  Meh.  Longer version:  the show’s four main subjects and interviews with other groups of girls were interesting and their stories poignant, but I didn’t think that their stories were framed in terribly interesting or useful ways.  This is clearly a matter of taste and disciplinary training, but I thought that framing the stories around a theraputic model–using sociology and psychology, primarily–made the show rather limp.  (Then again, PBS’s marketing of the show is aimed at parents of girls, and suggests a somewhat more serious and specific self-help-program-for-your-daughter-and-you than Dr. Wayne Dyer or Suze Orman offer during those endless pledge week marathons.) Continue Reading »

25 Comments »

October
11th 2009
Feminism, “Post-feminism,” and Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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

smashpatriarchy

It's just too bad we'll still need your help, kid.

Michelle Goldberg’s article about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “Feminism’s Last Line of Defense,” makes the point that she’s the last (and sadly, probably will remain the only) Supreme Court justice who was famous for her feminist work and who was present at the creation of Second-Wave feminism’s important revisions of American law.  (For more on Ginsburg, see this terrific interview with her in the New York Times last July.  What a savvy politician, too–do you see how she makes the points she wants to make, no matter what questions she was actually asked?)  Goldberg writes:

As co-director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project in the 1970s, Ginsburg was a central figure in a string of cases in which various kinds of sex discrimination were ruled unconstitutional. She was famously clever in choosing cases in which discriminatory laws hurt men—one of her cases involved a widower father who couldn’t collect social security benefits available to widowed mothers, another challenged an Oklahoma law that let women buy low-alcohol beer at age 18, while men had to be 21. Presented with victimized men, justices had a way of suddenly comprehending the perniciousness of sexism. Her work resulted in many of the protections later generations of women would take for granted.

Indeed, that’s one reason we’re unlikely to see someone like her again. Ginsburg was seared by personal experiences of sexism, while her work has helped insure that later generations of women would be spared similar injustices. As one of nine women in her Harvard Law School class, she was asked by the dean how she could justify taking a place that would have gone to a man. Justice Felix Frankfurter refused to hire her as a clerk because of her gender. As a law professor in the early 60s, she hid her second pregnancy because she was afraid it might endanger her job.

Goldberg’s point about Ginsburg’s generational perspective is an important one, but I think she is a bit too much of a whig historian here when it comes to the slings and arrows of outrageous sex discrimination being a thing of the past.  Continue Reading »

26 Comments »

September
29th 2009
‘Good people skills’ probably means not telling your supervisors to ‘kiss my a$$,’ unfortunately!

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

Susan O’Doherty at Mama Ph.D. has some interesting thoughts about the gendered expectations of women in professional leadership positions.  She writes,

A few years ago, one of my clients, “Ellen,” a brilliant and forceful young woman, informed me that she had received a negative work evaluation. I was surprised to hear this, since her reports of her achievements reflected one success after another. “It’s not my work per se,” she clarified. “My actual work is fine. They told me I don’t have good ‘people skills,’ that I’m too abrasive and impatient. They suggested that I go to a coach, to learn how to communicate in a more tactful way. “We agreed that their stated objections were code for “not ladylike enough.”

This client’s job entailed coordinating the work of a diverse and independent staff, some members of which were oppositional and even hostile. It was hard to imagine the Buddha performing her duties without occasional abrasiveness. It was even harder to imagine Donna Reed, or Betty from “Mad Men,” commanding any respect from this crew. Yet Ellen was expected to be both soft/feminine and effective. “Do any of the men get this kind of feedback?” I asked, but we both knew the answer.

What was the more personal answer, though? We talked a great deal about what it would mean to change her “style” — how, on the one hand, it might be a valuable experience to learn other ways of relating; but on the other, she felt she was being told that her personality was unacceptable, and that it was necessary to paint a new, “feminine” face over her real one.

Make no mistake, when they spend this much time worrying you about your “personality” or your “style,” it’s bullying.  The reason they’re attacking the so-called problems with Ellen’s “communications style” is that they can’t find a way to attack her actual work record.  Continue Reading »

32 Comments »

June
12th 2009
Historiann wonders: jealous, much?

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

attack50ftwomanPer Thursday’s post at Tenured Radical about the silly panic at the New York Times that “traditional” history is imperiled because, well, cherchez la femme, here’s another take by Mary L. Dudziak at Legal History Blog (and h/t to Mary for the most excellent graphic, at left!).  She asks, “[w]hy a backward-looking article about the way the pie should be divided, when the more pressing news story is the impact of the economic crisis on the next generation of historians, regardless of field?”

“Anonymous” asks a similar question back in the thread at Tenured Radical, to wit:  “What’s up with the NYT and its shoddy coverage of everything that related to academia? What’s the source of its hostility/ ignorance?”  (Remember this little fracas, friends?)  Historiann would like to propose an answer to that simple question, which I think can be applied to most people working in print journalism these days: Continue Reading »

6 Comments »

March
18th 2009
CU(e) the sideshow clowns

Posted under jobs & local news & unhappy endings

sadclownI’ve never written anything much about Ward Churchill on this blog–some of you may have wondered why, since for me it’s a local news story, and since I have written pretty extensively about the academic workplace and academia in the public sphere.  2008 was a relatively low-profile year for Churchill, and the politicians trying to get him fired have been out of office for a few years, as have the University of Colorado presidents who were involved in his censure and firing.  Churchill’s civil lawsuit against the University of Colorado is being heard now in Denver, so this is really the first timel’affaire Churchill has been a timely topic for this blog, which has only been in existence since January 2008.  (For those of you who just can’t get enough, this law blog is following the trial.)

The major reason I don’t have much to say about Churchill–the “roosting chickens” essay he wrote on September 12, 2001, the allegations of plagiarism against him, or his termination–is that I really don’t see any good guys in this story.  (See this rundown by Dahlia Lithwick at Slate about how a 3-1/2 year old essay on the world wide self-published timewasting web suddenly became national news in the late winter of 2005.)  Rumors had swirled around Churchill for years in the Native American studies community; Continue Reading »

10 Comments »

January
8th 2009
A manifesto against “coverage”

Posted under jobs & students

Historiann nails it to the door to see if it sticks.

I’m working on my syllabi this week, and I have something to say.  I hate “coverage,” that lowest and most common denominator of history education.  Oh, how I hate “coverage.”  Let me count the ways.  (Don’t worry–there aren’t 95 theses here, only eight):

“Coverage” is the most unimaginative goal for a history course, from first-year survey courses to graduate seminars.  I’m not saying that chronology and some broad content are unimportant–just that there are more efficient ways for students to learn it other than from a proffie flicking through PowerPoint slides or standing in front of a chalk board.  (Isn’t that what survey texts and other handy reference books are for?)  I’m also not suggesting that we offer only courses that are in-depth studies of (for example) the social mobility of seventeenth-century cross-dressing fullers’ apprentices in Leiden (although that topic would make a fine article, I’m sure.)  I’m just asking what we are really achieving when we worry about “coverage” instead of ideas, recurring issues and themes, and above all, analysis?

“Coverage” encourages historians to live up to the cliche that we’re just a bunch of Mr. Gradgrinds–”what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts“–and that we’re mere antiquarians masquerading as intellectuals.  “Coverage” is the historians’ albatross that allows literary scholars, philosophers, and anthropologists to imagine that they’re the only people in the liberal arts who offer ideas, and not just information. 

Continue Reading »

36 Comments »

January
4th 2009
AHA blogging round-up: how will we keep them down on the ranch, now that they’ve seen NYC?

Posted under conferences & jobs

In case you missed it, Hotshot Harry checked in with us last night from the AHA with his second report.  Meanwhile, there are some other folks blogging the conference–some of the most interesting posts are listed below (with thanks to Cliopatria and The Way of Improvement Leads Home for pointing them out to me.  Please note Cliopatria’s pickup on Indyanna’s reminiscences about Nat Hentoff being called a very bad word–repeatedly–at an early 1970s AHA!)

Here’s a hint to the grad-flakes in the audience: the first question you will face in every AHA interview (and I mean every single f#%king one) is some variation on the old standby, “tell us about your $hitty f#&king work and its relationship to the boring-a$$ field.” This is a softball. This is the easiest motherf*!king question you can get. You should have a 45 second answer to this question in your back pocket. And when I say 45 second, I mean 45 f#&king seconds and not a second more. Practice it in the mirror if you have to. Go to an acting coach if you must. But if you cannot state the importance of your work and its relationship to the field in 45 seconds or less, you are not getting the job. Sometimes candidates can get away with a 90 second answer if they have charm, but your goal should be 45 seconds. I mention this because today the self-immolating candidate took up the entire interview trying to answer this question. And I tried to stop him. My colleagues tried to interrupt. But he was having none of it. He spent 40 minutes trying to answer the question. And when we told him his time was up, he said “I guess what I’m trying to say is that my ideas are really complex.”

The first session I attended was The Promise and Pitfalls of Writing for Readers beyond the Academy, at which I was that guy who embarrassingly enters late and bumps into people while finding a seat (in this case, on the floor). It was a relatively informal panel, with none of the typical reading of papers in a monotone voice, and with a lot of back-and-forth with the audience. I found it interesting that for the first part of the session, blogging was never touched upon. Then an audience member brought it up, and the panelists began to fervently speak about it for a fair amount of time. What surprised me was the relatively positive attitude many of the panelists carried towards blogging. This might be a kind of self-selective mechanism, as panelists for a session on popular writing are probably not the stuffy academic types that look down their noses at blogging. On the other hand, I got the sense that blogging as a whole has become much more mainstream and accepted within the academy. The panel also reminded me of the kind of “exercise” aspect of writing on a blog – in that it forces you to write and is a great tool for experimentation and self-improvement.

That’s a little too high-falutin’ for this cowgirl.  I see blogging–even professionally-related blogging–mostly as a tool for entertainment and self-promotion.  At their most serious, academic blogs can be sites for communities of likeminded individuals to meet and share ideas and concerns–my blogging about bullying work environments and urging people in academia to be fair and decent has served that purpose, I hope, as has some of my women’s history blogging.  But I’m not on board with the movement of academic bloggers who want job credit for blogging.  Putting this baby on my annual review would make it feel like work–and although I enjoy my work, I like thinking of this space as a not-work space.

Anyhoo–back to y’all in New York.  Good luck, greenhorns and vaqueras!  Let me know how it goes for you–send in a dispatch before you start that long cattle drive home.

9 Comments »

January
1st 2009
Happy New Year!

Posted under fluff & Gender

Another year down the rabbit hole, and happy birthday to Historiann.com!  Actually, I think my first post went “live” on December 31, 2007–you’ll see some older posts in the archive, but that was when my designer and I were just tinkering around and working out the format and look of the thing.  So perhaps today is Historiann’s un-birthday instead?  (Cake at left courtesy of Cakewrecks, natch.) 

Originally, I envisioned this blog as a way to help publicize the Fourteenth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women held last June, and to provide a forum for discussion of women’s history and gender issues in contemporary life.  Things got political very quickly when I got swept up in the Democratic primary race last winter and spring and the general election in the fall, and I also dipped my toe into academic politics in various posts on the uses and abuses of tenure and academic bullying

One of the things I’ve noticed especially this year is the almost complete absence of feminist commentary and analysis in the mainstream media.  (Joan Walsh at Salon.com, and Marie Cocco of the Washington Post Writers Group, are the only two exceptions I can think of.)  I think academic feminist bloggers are doing a real service in providing this analysis, albeit on their own time and their own dime–Feminist Law Profs, Tenured Radical, Echidne of the Snakes, The Global Sociology Blog, Roxie’s World, WOC Ph.D., and Anglachel’s Journal, just to name a few that I read regularly. 

Dr. Crazy had a very interesting post a few weeks ago on the advantages of blogging anonymously.  As many of you know, she is pseudonymous, but her blog is not linked to her real name or professional identity other than her discipline (English.)  I agree with her that anonymous bloggers can write about things that those of us whose blogs are linked to our professional identities can’t.  Sometimes I regret that–but because this blog was originally meant to publicize a conference in which I played a major role, being anonymous wasn’t a comfortable option for me.  I also wanted to write more about my professional research and teaching interests–and since there are only (maybe?) three dozen early American women’s historians in this country, it would not have been difficult to track me down.  In general, it seems like the people who blog under their real names (or whose pseudonyms are linked to their real names, like Historiann) don’t share as much about their personal or family lives or their specific work environments, whereas anonymous academic bloggers share more of those things but don’t reveal as much about their professional lives or research interests.  That’s the main trade-off.  I realize, however, that even having the choice of blogging anonymously or blogging as myself is itself a privilege–most of the “out” bloggers I know are tenured, and most of the anonymous bloggers are junior faculty or adjuncts. 

I don’t know what exactly this blog will look like at this time next year, or how long I can keep up this pace of posting, but it’s still fun for me, and I am grateful to have so many very smart, very insightful commenters.  I’ve really learned a lot from you all.  Thank you.

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