Category Archives: feminism

April 13, 2012, 4:26 pm

What Kind of Times are These?

Anonymous, Adrienne Rich (c. 1975), courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-103575

Today’s guest blogger, Jennifer Finney Boylan, is professor of English at Colby College. She is the author of 13 books, including Stuck in the Middle With You: Parenthood in Three Genders, which will be published by Random House/Crown in 2013, along with the revised 10th-year anniversary edition of her memoir, She’s Not There. Boylan’s blog, There from Here is at www.jenniferboylan.net, and she may be reached at jb@jenniferboylan.net.

 

Last week, as prelude to an evening of poetry, my colleague Peter Harris– a writer and a professor here at Colby College–gave a short reading from Adrienne Rich’s “What Kind of Times Are These.” “She burned through the fog that I lived in like an acetylene torch,” he…

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February 26, 2012, 1:33 pm

Sunday Book Review: Hey Daddy, What Was It Like To Be A Lesbian Feminist in the 1970s?

Jeanne Córdova, When We Were Outlaws:  a Memoir of Love and Revolution (Midway, FL: Spinsters, Inc., 2011), 256 pp. $14.95 paper. Citations refer to locations on the ebook version.

“I have always been fascinated by how a noisy swelling called a social movement arrives on the doorsteps of an individual’s life and how she responds to it,” longtime activist, writer and organizer Jeanne Córdova writes in the forward to her memoir When We Were Outlaws. “Most ignore the calling of the unfathomable energies of our times.  For the rest of us — how does one recognize a social movement when it comes calling at your door?” (115)

Today, being legible as queer or trans does not necessarily require a political community or a movement. Large numbers of GLBT folks seem quite eager to be politically indistinguishable from the heteronormative mainstream, preferring to participate in activism …

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February 18, 2012, 6:39 pm

The Sunday Book Review: Elizabeth Taylor As Feminist Icon

M.G. Lord, The Accidental Feminist:  How Elizabeth Taylor Raised Our Consciousness (and We Were Too Distracted By Her Beauty to Notice). New York:  Walker Publishing Company, 2012. 211 pp. Index. 23.00, hardbound.

It is inevitable that Elizabeth Taylor’s death, almost a year ago this March, will bring us a number of books reconsidering her legacy.  I’m glad to say that one of the first out of the gate is M.G. Lord’s The Accidental Feminist, a brief interpretive account of Taylor’s cultural and political significance. As the title promises, it gives us not new facts about Taylor — it has got to be too soon for that — but a different way to think about an actress who was celebrated for her beauty and for her numerous trips to the altar (eight husbands, if you count Richard Burton twice.)

Marrying seven different men is not a quality you associate with a feminist?  Well, think a…

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January 15, 2012, 2:29 pm

The End of Miss America: Feminism Didn’t Kill the Pageant, But Boredom Might

Miss Wisconsin, Laura Kaeppeler, being crowned Miss America 2012

Last week I was writing a chapter of my new book about radical feminism and decided to begin with the 1968 Miss America Protest organized and executed by New York Radical Women.  I may ditch this opening: the more I dig back into the secondary material on women’s liberation, the more I see it turning up as a hook.  However, as a result of pursuing this narrative strategy I did something last night that I haven’t done in decades.

I watched the Miss America Pageant.

I didn’t intend to watch it — in fact, it took me by surprise, since for many years the pageant was a summer event. However, the show I really wanted to watch (a complex legal drama called The Firm that seems to have several plots running at once and involves the witness…

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December 16, 2011, 7:07 pm

Update On The Ryan Gosling Meme, and Other Blog Bites

Tenured Radical has been laid up for few days.  I was riding over to Historiann‘s place, where we were planning on roping, tying and branding a few menz. You know, just a casual feminist afternoon activity to pass the time before final papers come in. But as I was coming round the canyon wall I ran into a few conservative bloggers rustling the herd.  Needless to say there was an exchange of words, and then BLAM! I got gut shot by a law professor.  A few stitches and I’m fine:  I’ll tell you the rest of the story later.

Meanwhile,  a few things have come across the transom.  First of all, check out the contribution to the Ryan Gosling meme designed by a reader at Rice University.  Much hotter than my Ryan who looks, come to think of it, a little like a lesbian.   (more…)

November 15, 2011, 3:47 pm

Rejoining the Parts: A Conversation with Jane Lazarre About Race, Fiction, American History and Her New Novel, Inheritance

Jane Lazarre is a writer of fiction, memoir and poetry who has published many books, beginning with her memoir, The Mother Knot (1976; reissued in 1997 by Duke University Press) and most recently, Inheritance, A Novel (Hamilton Stone Editions, 2011). She has taught writing and literature at New York’s City College and at Yale University; and for many years directed and taught in the undergraduate writing program at Eugene Lang College at the New School.

Tenured Radical: The title of the book — Inheritance — asks the reader to think about what is passed down, generation to generation.  But in the first chapter we are confronted with Sam’s frustration and anger that, as a young woman with a white and a black parent, she knows so little of her family history. We come to understand that our historical “inheritance” not only can’t be taken for granted and but also sometimes requires a…

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November 4, 2011, 6:12 pm

You Know All About Eve: A GLQ Special Section on Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

Who has time to read journals in November, you ask?  Sometimes you just have to stop and do it: it is so much easier to neglect journal-reading now that many of us access them electronically.  Remember? They used to pile up next to the desk until either vacation would come, or you would clear the decks for three intense days of reading and throwing them away.

In any case, take the time now for one issue. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies vol. 17 no. 4 (2011) has devoted a special section to the memory of literary critic, poet, feminist and queer studies scholar Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (May 2 1950 – April 12 2009). It includes an essay on James Merrill by Sedgwick, introduced by her husband Hal, followed by reflections on Sedgwick and her work by Henry Abelove, Michael Moon, Kathryn Kent and Neil Hertz. (more…)

November 2, 2011, 9:56 am

Q: Can You Be A Sexual Harasser and Still Be President of the United States?

I have to give you the short answer, because my internet is still in and out due to the Halloween Nor’easter:

You betcha.

For all the women who wanted to have sex with the prez pictured at left, how many do you think pushed away a groping hand? Or went along for the ride, whether they wanted to or not, at a moment in history when any man could have a job for which a more skilled and intelligent woman would not even be interviewed? At a time when one of the best political jobs most women could hope for was running Jackie’s schedule? (more…)

September 20, 2011, 3:39 pm

Anything Can Happen To Any Bunny: A Review of “The Playboy Club”

I got out of the salt mines early today, and the first thing I did was read Historiann, who made a great catch on Nora Ephron’s response to the new Mad Men rip-off, The Playboy Club (stay tuned for Pan Am, premiering on ABC September 25.)

The second thing I did was microwave some lunch and settle down in front of the DVR to watch me some Bunnies.

The verdict?  It’s bad television, not because it celebrates sexism (which it does) but because it does so in a way that does not permit a transgressive identification, or perhaps any identification, with any character in the show.  Now, I would disagree with at least one of the points that Ephron makes about The Playboy Club: “Trust me, no one wanted to be a Bunny.”  No one wants to take comprehensive doctoral exams either, but that’s hardly the point.  Even though most committees don’t make you wear skin-tight sateen, spike heels and…

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August 21, 2011, 3:46 pm

For Colored Only? Understanding “The Help” Through The Lens Of White Womanhood

Full disclosure: I was raised almost entirely by my white biological mother without the assistance of paid domestic labor.  This is neither a good thing or a bad thing.  It  just is.

I decided to begin this post with a title that would make my white readers uncomfortable in a way that “The Help” (Tate Taylor, 2011), and the Kathleen Stockett novel it is based on, will not.  Although I have overheard the word colored used intimately and fondly, I am outside a community that privileges me to actually speak it except when I am giving a lecture about segregation.

Which I am about to commence.

For a white person to describe African-American people as “colored” is too closely associated with the forms of thinly-veiled race hatred masquerading as civilization that characterized middle class white racism in the 1960s. White courtesies — like substituting “colored” for the curse…

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