Category Archives: feminism

April 24, 2013, 9:26 pm

Report From The Post-Feminist Mystique

514_400x400_NoPeelIf you are not a subscriber to The Nation you may have missed author Deborah Copaken Kogan’s “My So-Called Post-Feminist Lit Life.” Riffing off the title of the  TV series about adolescent female angst that introduced us to Claire Danes back in 1994, Kogan rips the lid off what it means to be a female author in a literary world where men rule.

Kogan’s reflection follows her nomination for the Orange Prize, a British literary award given only to women, and is a reflection on the perennial (male) complaint that the time for “women’s” anything has passed. Because feminism finished the work — and anyway, if it’s for women it’s got to be second rate, right? Unlike things for men, like, say, Augusta National, the Joint Chiefs of Staff or President of the United States.

Revealing that she has not yet been allowed to pick a title for one of her four books (Shuttergirl, a 2002 memoir of…

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March 17, 2013, 10:29 am

The Feminine Mystique @ 50: A New School Symposium

Ephemera-I-ChooseBack in February, we had a two day symposium at my new intellectual home, the New School for Public Engagement. Since it is women’s history month, I thought I would make the edited tapes of the event available to the rest of you, with the events featuring Tenured Radical embedded in this post.

Here is a discussion of the documentary “Some American Feminists,” led by my colleague Tracyanne Williams, and shown courtesy of Women Make Movies (Hat tip to another colleague, WMM board member Michelle Materre, for making this possible.) Here is our first panel, “House/Wife: The Feminine Mystique at Home,” moderated by my colleague and co-organizer Laura Auricchio, which situated women in twentieth century kitchens designed for modern family life.

Our keynote speaker was Susan Ware, general editor of American National Biography, with an introduction from yours truly:

The first…

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March 3, 2013, 8:55 pm

We Don’t Need Another Hero: One Woman’s Disabled History

2235_regHarilyn Rousso, Don’t Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2013), 224 pp., paper $24.95.

From its title onward, New York activist Harilyn Rousso’s Don’t Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back argues against the American romance with parables about everyday heroism and triumph over adversity. Instead, this book asks: what would a public that is welcoming to disabled people actually look like? An American Studies Association panel I attended last fall, riffing off of Dan Savage’s It Gets Better YouTube campaign for GLBT youth, put it this way: what if “it” doesn’t get better? What if there is no cure, no triumphant overcoming? What if the body you have is the body you get? Can we imagine instead narratives about rich and full lives with disability?

These are crucial questions, and it is is why you …

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February 22, 2013, 10:59 am

Why The Feminine Mystique? Why Now?

Today and tomorrow we are hosting a symposium at The New School for Public Engagement in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Betty Friedan’s popular feminist blockbuster, The Feminine Mystique (1963). A gathering of multiple generations of feminists in four panels and a keynote, the event was sparked by undergraduates at Parsons School of Design. These young women, who were over 25 years away from being born when the book first came out, planned an exhibit (which opened today and will be up until March 5) inspired by Friedan’s ideas as a class project. One thing led to another, and suddenly we have An Event, with a keynote delivered by feminist historian Susan Ware, who published a wonderful book on Billie Jean King and Title IX in 2011. See our fancy announcement in The Grey Lady here.

We who…

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December 27, 2012, 5:23 pm

Kid Knowledge: An Interview With J. Jack Halberstam (Part II)

SpongeBob SquarePants, a veritable font of gaga kid knowledge, debuted on the Nickelodeon channel in 1999.

Halberstam and I planned part II of this interview about Gaga Feminism: Sex Gender and the End of Normal (Beacon 2012) around the topic of taking the observations of children seriously. History then intervened.  In Sandy Hook, CT, 20 children and 7 adults were shot to death by a young man barely beyond adolescence himself; suddenly, this post became difficult and poignant. However, as Jack pointed out in an email, “perhaps it is even more appropriate” to talk about what children know, and what they care about, at this time.

I agree. We at Tenured Radical honor all of the deceased in Sandy Hook by reminding ourselves of why adult teachers, six of whom deliberately sacrificed their own lives for their…

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December 5, 2012, 11:26 am

Gaga Feminism: An Interview With J. Jack Halberstam (Part I)

J. Jack Halberstam is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California and one of queer studies’ most prominent and accessible public intellectuals. Jack has challenged the fields of literature, cultural studies, film and television with path-breaking volumes like Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters (2005), Female Masculinity (1998), The Drag King Book: A First Look (1999, in partnership with photographer Del LaGrace Volcano), and In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (2005). More recently, in The QueerArt of Failure (2011) and Gaga Feminism: Sex Gender and the End of Normal (2012), Halberstam has taken queer theory’s classic intervention, revealing what is hidden in plain sight, to interrogate everyday knowledge that is often neglected by cultural critics — cartoons, pop videos, and the questions …

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October 26, 2012, 6:38 pm

Before You (Don’t) Cast Your Protest Vote: Think 1980. Think 2000.

Remember all the protest votes cast for John Anderson in 1980?

One of the commenters on my last post disagreed with my view that deciding not to vote is an abnegation of civic responsibility. “There is a good argument to be made about not voting as an act of protest,” s/he wrote, and then pointed out that there are more than two candidates running.”The Green Party candidate, Jill Stein… does represent a real progressive alternative to the status quo.”

I find this comment usefully provocative, and an excuse to extend my remarks about protest voting. In a place like Canada, I would vote for Jill Stein. In the United States, where we have two parties, it is not a “real…alternative” to vote for Stein. This election is so tight that voting for someone who is a progressive alternative, but who will never win the…

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October 11, 2012, 2:39 pm

Lesbian Nation; Or, Why MItt Romney Would Cut Off Federal Funds to Lower Manhattan

In the spring of 2013, my university is going to be celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (W.W. Norton, 1963). It’s particularly fitting that we do it here at the New School for Public Engagement, I think, because a big part of our mission is to reach out to adults and non-traditional students who want to finish a college education that was foreclosed or interrupted. Although Betty Friedan was not that person, her activism and writing nonetheless caused women to finish their educations and get back in the workforce.

Betty Friedan was not so good on lesbians, however, causing people like Kate Millett and Ti-Grace Atkinson to abandon Friedan’s fledgling National Organization for Women in facor of the rock ‘em, sock ‘em world of radical feminism. Hence, let me be perhaps hte first to point out that 2013 will also be the fortieth anniversary of…

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September 24, 2012, 12:13 pm

Eroticizing Violence Against Women Is A Feminist Issue — So Why Don’t We Say So?

            Not sexy, dude, even in France.

Mostly I have been keeping my mouth shut about the vogue in mainstream S/M. I am certainly restraining myself on the pressing topic of the day, Naomi Wolfe’s vagina. There seems to be so little to say about these things after all the regular critics have finished with them except to be mean about heterosexuality and how dull it is becoming. Is it interesting that A Trillion Fifty Shades of Grey is popular among straight girls?

Not really. What’s more interesting, from this historian’s perspective, is that the Grey books, which feature the possibilities of changing your life by becoming involved with a wealthy kinky man, are being carried in Barnes and Noble; that having a man “do what a woman wants without being asked” doesn’t seem to include having him give …

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August 30, 2012, 5:02 pm

Department of Feminist Reading and Writing

Still interested in strange Republican views of the female body?  Here’s a terrific piece in the New York Times by my former Zenith history colleague Jennifer Tucker (August 23 2012) defending Todd Akin’s science as correct — for medieval Europe, that is. Who says feminists don’t have a sense of humor???

And here’s a great WaPo op-ed by Stanford historian Estelle B. Freedman, “Women’s Long Battle to Define Rape” (August 24 2012) that places the emergence of rape as a prosecutable crime in the context of United States racial history. It comes complete with 300 wackadoodle mansplainin’ comments, lecturing this eminent scholar of gender and sexuality on aspects of American history and society that, as a feminist scholar, she could not possibly have been aware of  (for example, that if you get rid of illegal immigrants there will be no more rape.)

Finally, here’s something I…

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