Category Archives: its always women’s history month

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 13, 2012, 11:39 am

Because You Don’t Wanna Be *That* Colleague, Do Ya?

You aren’t *that* colleague, are you? The one who mansplains your way through the gender studies search, having proofread your daughter’s feminist theory take-home final but not the actual applications? The one who is sure that your seminars are so drastically under-enrolled because you are such a demanding teacher and everyone else int eh department has given in to political correctness/grade inflation/fashion?  The colleague who always needs a ride — but never gives one? And never asks for that ride until it’s time to go home? The colleague who is always late to a meeting because you have something (unnamed) that is more important? The one who has no advisees because all of your hours are by appointment only and you “don’t do email”?

Of course you aren’t. So you will really enjoy this end of semester crowd pleasing essay as you wade your way through grading, job applications and…

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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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June 19, 2012, 8:59 pm

It’s Summer: Let’s Tee Up Some History Shorts

Obama may have made history by being the first president to golf in cargo shorts.

Word has it that all of us will be wearing shorts on Thursday, as the temperature rises into the high 90s. So let’s start the chilling with a…

Cold War Cultural Revival. You thought that the membership of the American Studies Association, the Modern Language Association and the Organization of American Historians had collectively driven a stake through the heart of American Exceptionalism. But someone from the Republican National Committee fished your old copies of Frederick Jackson Turner and Lionel Trilling out of the book donation box at the local library.

In April 2011, your favorite Radical twigged you to a Sarah Palin speech in which she explained that her appearance at the Iowa State Fair was intended, not…

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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, and she may be reached at


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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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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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 2, 2011, 9:50 am

It’s Tuesday, It’s Hot: You Need Shorts

For those of you who are new to Tenured Radical, you should know that people send us stuff all the time.  Little stuff, big stuff, stuff that goes viral as a featured post and other stuff that we just save and kick out every once in a while with other stuff we like.  So without further ado, today’s stuffed shorts are:

Moonlight, Magnolias and Marriage Myths. In today’s Grey Lady, Princeton historian Tera Hunter has a superb op-ed about the ways in which Republican right-wingers are re-writing the history of slavery to suit modern political agendas.  The excising of the 3/5th clause in the Constitution during a Republican reading of that document on the House Floor, and the outrageous assertion in a document authored by Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum “that ‘a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than…

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