Tag Archives: Women’s History Month

Three Women You Don’t Know

Before Women’s History Month draws to a close, it’s a great pleasure to host a wonderful piece from Joy-Ann Reid, Editor of the Reid Report (@TheReidReport on Twitter). Joy is an extraordinary Twitter follow, if you’re not following her already, and her blog is a treasure trove for great political insight. She’s a political columnist for the Miami Herald and a contributor for TheGrio.com. It’s really a great honor to host her contribution.


With just a few hours left to go in Women’s History Month, allow me to salute three women you don’t know.

There’s Philomena Carryl Lomena, born in 1929 in Georgetown, Guyana , who taught school in London before moving first to Iowa, then New York, then Denver Colorado.

She waited to have kids until her 40s, earned a PhD and held down a second job while working as a college professor in Greeley, Colorado. A single mom, she and her kids tooled around the country in a station wagon like the Wild Thornberrys – to the Colorado mountains, tp Wyoming, and Utah; to the opera and the Renaissance fair. When they were low on funds, they’d check into a local hotel and pretend to be on holiday.

Phil and her three chickadees (and their station wagon) spent a summer in Oaxaca, Mexico so she could write a chapter in a colleague’s book on the dietary habits of the impoverished people of the Colonias, When she threw dinner parties, her kids sneaked coffee with cream, and could chat at length with grown-ups about politics. She’d let them stay up late weeknights, but only to watch “Nightline.”

In the last year of her life, she insisted her girls visit Europe, and scraped together the money to get them there.

Rita LeJeune Bradford was Phil’s best friend in Denver. She insisted Phil’s kids call her LeJeune – no “auntie” as West Indian kids are taught to address adult family friends.  When she was at the University of Chicago as a young black woman in the 1940s, LeJeune hung with the Communists, because they were the ones talking black and gender equality. She later decided that any idea that ends in “ism” is clearly not worth a damn.

When she was young, the stunning LeJeune got married. It lasted a few months – about the time it took for her to realize she preferred her freedom. Her house was a treasure trove of photographs, antiques, and enough books to fill a library.

A chain-smoking technophobe who refused to buy a computer or trade in her 1972 Buick, leJeune’s favorite saying was, “we are living in the age of primitive man.” She traveled, cooked exotic meals for her friends, and kept the most fabulous backyard garden.

And there’s Bernice Rassoules, Philomena’s best mate at NYU – the Malcolm X to her MLK. As two black, immigrant women in the 1960s, Bernice and Phil spent as much time battling professors as learning from them;  teachers who started black students with “Cs”, or who failed to give them the same time or personal instruction as their peers. White students wouldn’t share a cab with them, so they palled around the city on their own. Bernice, a feisty Jamaican whose nickname was “Nicey,” raised so much hell, running interference for her with red-faced faculty became Phil’s part time job.

Bernice was one of the few black women to work at the cash register at Bonwit Teller in the 60, where once, she met Troy Donohue. She took in all her siblings’ children, and when Phil passed on, she fulfilled her role as godmother by dropping the “god.” She married a Greek, bought a two-family house, and taught school in the Bronx for 25 years.

None of these women were famous. None rich. But all three – my mother, Phil, her good friend, LeJeune and my godmother, Auntie Bernice, who’s still giving them hell in the Bronx, were and are powerful in their own ways.

They exemplified independence, self-determination, achievement, and compassion. And feminism. They modeled that, too. They encouraged a healthy respect for debate, a fierce sense of civic duty, and a belief that children could be heard, and not just seen.

And this child is grateful.



Filed under Culture, Feminism, History

Women’s History Month: Temple Grandin

Here’s another fantastic Women’s History Month guest post from Hope M. Cueva (@HopeTheHBIC on Twitter). Truly inspirational. Thank you so much to Hope for sharing her and her daughter’s experience with us. Please share this great story with your followers.


I could start this off talking about my own Mother which probably to a lot of women would think that is the Woman of all Women. Well that is pretty obvious to my heart for many reasons. So in choosing a woman who has touched my life as well I couldn’t only think of one that has helped my Daughter directly.

So for you Mom, I dedicate this to you. I know you would want this for your Granddaughter.


Hug Machine

The woman I look at is Temple Grandin. She was born on August 29th of 1947. She is a American doctor of Animal Science and also a professor at Colorado State University. Her credentials also include a bestselling author and a consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior.

Grandin has high-functioning Autism. She is known for being a huge advocate for Autism and is the inventor of the hug machine which is designed to calm hypersensitive persons.  A hug machine is known a squeeze machine. It’s a deep pressure device that calms hyper sensitive persons and usually helps people with Autism Spectrum disorders. It’s extremely therapeutic.

The squeeze box is where a user lies, or squats between the side boards, for as long or short of a period as desired. It uses pressure exerted by a air compressor and is controlled by the user, the side boards apply deep pressure evenly across the lateral parts of the body

Ms. Grandin was born in Boston and she was diagnosed with Autism in 1950 and diagnosed with brain damage at the age of two. Finally at the age of 4 Ms. Grandin spoke her first words. She was considered the nerdy kid. She would be called a tape recorder due to her repetition of the same words over and over again. It was hard and painful for her back then.

She spoke in public for the first time in the mid 1980s for Ruth Sullivan, one of the founders of the Autism Society of America. Grandin also been on many media shows and in 2009, Grandin was featured in a three hour interview on C-SPAN called, “In Depth with Temple Grandin.”

In 2010 Temple Grandin starring Claire Danes as Grandin was a focus in a biographical movie on HBO. On August 29, 2010, Grandin was nominated for 15 Emmy’s on the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards. Grandin joined Claire Danes when the award was won. She spoke for a brief moment to audience when the award was won. It was Grandin’s birthday that day..

Grandin is really a huge advocate on early intervention for Autism and supportive teachers who can direct on sensory issues and hypersentivity to noise.

On the personal life of Grandin she earned various degrees. The degrees she achieved are a B.A. In Psychology from Franklin Pierce University, Master of Science in Animal Science from Arizona State University, Ph. D in Animal Science from the University of Illinois. In 2010, Grandin received a honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Duke University.

Grandin has not married or had any children. Grandin feels that other people have that in their emotional life and that is not her. She has no interested in entertainment about emotions or relationships. Her interests are mostly Science Fiction and horse riding.

Autism has effected every part of her life. She has a sensory overload which requires for her to wear particular clothing. Grandin also takes medication. However, she does not use the hug machine that she invented to relieve stress.  The squeeze box broke two years and she has not gotten around to fixing it. Grandin is now into hugging people.

Grandin says, “If I could snap my fingers and become non autistic I would not do so. Autism is part of who I am.”

Grandin was also chosen to be a hero for Time’s 2010 heroes. I surely do agree with that.

The reason for me choosing Temple Grandin is because my Daughter that is now 9 is Autistic.

Kaitlyn was diagnosed at the age of 3 with Autism. I never knew what Autism meant. I couldn’t understand why my daughter was not speaking to me or reaching out to me.

Temple Grandin’s book was the first book I read about Autism. I found that Kaitlyn needed deep pressure to calm down. Hugging her tight and using heavy items to calm her down. Temple Grandin has touched my life to better understand what goes on in my Daughter’s mind.

Kaitlyn now is at a Kindergarten level and speaking up a storm. She has a huge sensory overload, stemming, repetitive and has many challenges to even count. We as a family have gone through many challenges due to Autism. Going out in a public places, getting thrown out of places and seeing that life will not be the same but it is for the good.

However, Kaitlyn is my daughter and she has changed my life for the better. She has taught me patience and accepting a person for even more for who they are.

So Temple Grandin has through the 6 years has touched my life more than anything else about Autism and to know that Kaitlyn is unique and she will always be.

I wouldn’t change Kaitlyn having Autism. It’s a label. It doesn’t define who she is.  Which is my Daughter.

Thank you Ms. Grandin for showing us that life can be great with Autism and I wouldn’t change a thing.


Hope M. Cueva


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Filed under Culture, Feminism

“Kitteh Litter”

Well, it’s Women’s History Month! All month I will be hosting guest posts from kick-ass women (and the occasional man) about their lives, experiences, thoughts, reactions, etc. This post comes from @ThundarKitteh, an AMAZING Twitter follow! It’s rambling, it’s everything you can want and imagine from a tattooed, vegan, kitteh-loving, half-Arab DIVA. Enjoy!


O HAI, WIMMINZ!!! It’s our time of the month…er, sorry, it’s just our month…wait, what if they mean we are on the rag for a whole bloody month?! And it’s a 31-day month too! Those unbelievable bastards! *freebases chocolate while chucking tampons at said unbelievable bastards* Hey, we women have to multitask, right? Just a warning before you keep reading: I’m writing this as I go, so I don’t know what’s going to happen, so deal with it. Or don’t, I don’t care. Anyway, I thought I’d write a little something today, as it’s near the end St. Paddy’s Day (EST, mind you) and I don’t drink anymore, so really, what the fuck else am I going to do? And what would I rather be doing than providing copious amounts of babbling and bad jokes to people on a friend’s blog? To be honest, making out with Daniel Henney is what I’d rather be doing. I’m willing to bet you don’t know who he is. I’ll give you a second to look him up. No, it’s totally cool, I’ll wait. Trust me on this.

*cue Final “Jeopardy!” theme music*
Did you see him?! Did you see?! I KNOW!!!! Hey, hey! Come back, I’m not done here yet. Give me a few more minutes of your time and you can go back to ogling him. Whoa, whoa! Both hands on the keyboard, Missy! Yeesh.
Moving on…sorta. I’m trying to think of deep things to write about, but I know that if I do, I’ll end up going on and on about really dark stuff and probably regret sharing it when I wake up tomorrow (so it’s not that different from St. Paddy’s Day Past, now is it?), so instead, I’ll talk about my heroine, who’s really an anti-hero: Tank Girl. Yes, you read that right. See, I’m not the type of woman who likes high heels and glitter and getting my hair done (I’m half Arab, I need less hair…it’s…it’s everywhere! Thanks, Dad). So most women who are considered worthy of worship don’t do much for me. I figured out at a young age that it’s because they’re people, real people. And real people mostly suck. So my first girl crushes were Wonder Woman and Princess Leia. Why? They have their shit together, and you don’t mess with them. The problem for me was that Wonder Woman was too sexualized (yes, I noticed this as a kid because I was weird). While I don’t have a problem with that per se, it’s not me. Princess Leia vanished into decent science fiction novels, but it wasn’t the same. Where did all the badass bitches go?
Then I discovered the Tank Girl comics. This epiphany tasted like AWESOMESAUCE! Here you have a badass bitch with funny hair who’s stinky, owns a fucking tank and who’s boyfriend is a kangaroo-human hybrid. She levels whole towns in the deserts in Australia just so she can get a case of beer. Oh yeah, and sometimes she saves the world (usually by mistake). SIGN. ME. UP!!! Sadly, I realized that this is not a way to live, but I adore her regardless. I’m still trying to get to her level of “I don’t give a fuck”, and it’s hard for me, sadly I was born caring about the world around me, and have a PhD in Worry Wartology. Oh yeah. It’s awful. Actually, I have an M.A. in Classical Studies from Tulane, but who’s counting? No, seriously, who is? I suck at math.
Though I suck at math, I can tell you that I have 11 tattoos. Big ones, too. I’d get into what they all are and mean, but seriously, who gives a shit? It annoys the hell out of me when people say “This pink butterfly represents my desire to be a free spirit.” Or “This tribal tattoo represents my heritage…of my frat! High five, bro!” K. That’s cute, but honestly, I don’t care. As for my tattoos, I blame the Red Hot Chili Peppers for the initial obsession with my wanting to get ink in the first place. After I quit drinking and smoking (all cold turkey, all in the same year. Yay, me), I realized that tattooing releases endorphins, and gives you a buzz similar to the one you get by drinking, etc. Running and scuba diving apparently do the same thing, which is why you see so many newly-sober people doing one or more of those activities. Neat huh? See, you learned something.
I’m also vegan. Don’t worry, I’m not one of the angry vegans. I developed an allergy to animal proteins at age 28. If I ate anything animal-based, I had heartburn so bad it would radiate throughout my chest and all the way down my left arm. I also would get all bile-y and acid reflux-y. I know, right? So, rather than have tons of tests done to confirm what’s wrong and be put on medication (I have no health insurance, btw), I decided that saner thing to do was give up animals and animal by-products. In three days all my pain was gone. If I eat anything with animal parts in it, the heartburn and acid reflux comes back instantly. I wonder if I could get a job testing food. “Is it truly vegan? This chick will find out for you.” I feel like I’d need a really outrageous hat for a job like that. Dunno why. *side glances at the Pope* Hey, if he gets one, I should too. I make no apologies for my weirdness, sorry.
So, what is it like being half Arab in a post-9/11 world you probably aren’t wondering? Well, to be honest, it is a bit ridiculous. And by “a bit” I mean “really fucking”. I have had some of the stupidest shit ever said to me in my life since that cursed date. Look, just because you see/hear/read a “special” on the news, doesn’t make you a fucking expert on Arabs, my dears. Hell, I don’t even consider myself any kind of authority, and I grew up overseas (mostly…I was born in La Jolla, then we moved back to Indianapolis cause my Mom hated SoCal, then we started travelling back and forth to Abu Dhabi (we’d go to school in AD and spend the summers and Xmas in Indy…again, weird, I know)). Anyway, all I’m saying is please stop parroting the nearly-100%-bullshit you see on TV about we Arabfolk and do something unheard of: Ask us questions, if you want to know more. You’d be amazed at the answers you get. You might even realize that what you’re hearing on the news is *gasp* racist! Here’s how to tell if something is racist or not. Like truly racist, not “saying Black Friday is racist”. No. No it isn’t. Anyway: If someone says something that sounds kinda shitty, replace the race/religion/gender/diet//minivan brand/whatever that they’ve said or written with your own. If you find it shitty and uncalled for, it’s racist. Yes, it’s really that simple.
Example: I worked for a while at a catering company in the baking section with two sisters who are your typical Indiana slightly trashy chicks; they have dad issues, a shitty mother, poor self-images, have recently found Jesus (he was on top the the fridge the whole time!), think highly of themselves to mask the fact that they should be on medication (or more medication, in most cases), but they mean well. I had the “privilege” of meeting the older sister’s husband. The next day, the other sister said to me, “[Blank] really enjoyed meeting you yesterday, he thought you were really cool.”
“Oh, well, thanks. It was nice meeting him too. He seems like a cool guy.”
“Yeah, well, he did say he was a bit surprised when he met you, cause you know…”
“Huh?” “Well, with you being Arab and all…”
“Oh, is it that I’m not all swaddled in fabric?”
“No, it’s that you’re…you’re pretty and Arab women normally aren’t pretty. Like, at all.”
OK, TIME OUT: What the FUCK do you say to that? I went with “First off, I’m not one of the pretty ones, you should see them. Wowza! And good-looking Arab women are just as gorgeous as other pretty women all over the world. I’ve never seen a race that has a monopoly on that.” I think I handled that quite nicely. I still want to smack her, though. Don’t judge me! I’m only human. It’s not like I really am Tank Girl. Hell, she’d have leveled that place.
Anyway, I’m prattling on more so than I intended (it’s an Arab thing), so thanks for reading this nonsense and stuff. Make sure to subscribe to Sarah’s blog because it is awesome, just like her! I’m not even kidding, I’d donate one of my boobs to her. I don’t care if it doesn’t work that way, it’s the truth!
Now you can return to the ogling of Monsieur L’Henney. Just make sure to put some plastic liner on your chair, don’t want you to have to explain why you’re stuck. See? I do care!


Filed under Culture, Feminism, Middle East

TheChickAbides, Single Moms, and Women’s History Month

All this month I will be posting guest blogs about Women’s History Month. Our first guest blogger is the incomparable @TheChickAbides on Twitter and The Chick Abides. Chardon Murray is a political junkie, blogger, and researcher. She’s been a human and civil rights activist for over a decade, as well as working in broadcast media, government, and academia.  She lives with her childhood sweetheart and young daughter in a coastal town in North Carolina.

Mike Huckabee

“Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can’t get a job and if it weren’t for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care. And that’s the story that we’re not seeing, and it’s unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out of children wedlock.[sic]”     –Former Gov. Mike Huckabee

I was 25 years old when it became clear to me that my (now ex) husband didn’t have the maturity, desire, or will to fight his severe drug addiction.  But it was the night he called me, high as a kite, and threatened to rape and murder me in front of our daughter that my decision was made for me.  I didn’t want my daughter to grow up thinking that that’s the way women are supposed to be treated, so I became a single mom.

Even so, it was an agonizing decision.  Not because of my ex-husband–his addiction and abuse had long since killed any positive emotion I had toward him–but because I was terrified of the prospect of becoming a single mother.  Growing up in the Bible Belt, I had been socialized since I was very young that women were incapable of raising a child on their own.  Becoming a single mother was not an easy decision to make, even if the alternative meant a lifetime of pain, abuse, misery, and neglect.

There were sacrifices:  I dropped out of grad school to take a job working in the State Legislature.  Unable to find affordable childcare, my parents and I got up early and made the 4 hour round-trip drive several times a week.

I worked so I didn’t have to suckle the government’s welfare teat.  I sacrificed so that I could provide a good life for her.  Of course, I relied heavily on my amazing family.  Their support was invaluable, and it has made us extremely close as a family.  My daughter has a relationship with them she might not have otherwise had, and my little girl and I are incredibly close.  We are survivors, we are strong women, and we did it together.

In the meantime, my ex-husband spent his inheritance, wound up in jail, and high-tailed it back home, 2000 miles away, without so much as kissing his daughter goodbye.  Responsibility was not his strong suit; neither was paying his child support.  (He has since had his parental rights terminated.)

Life as a single mother was hard, but not because of the sacrifices we made.  It was hard because of the judgments.

This is a sad image of the poor, unhappy, starving child of a single mother. Bless her heart.

When I told people about my situation, some were enormously supportive.  Others, not so much.  One of my fellow grad assistants, upon hearing of my impending divorce, mused, “Oh, that’s so sad! A child should never grow up without their father.”  One of my closest friends (at the time) told me, “I’m a Christian, I don’t believe in divorce.  You’re making a mistake.  He’s obviously crying out for help.  You made vows.  That child needs her father.”

Heh.  I don’t know about you, but when your “cry for help” involves threatening rape and murder in front of a toddler, which you blame on the fact you were high as soon as you got out from your 7th stint in rehab, I’d say you’re doing it wrong.

You see, in the Bible belt, it’s better for a child to have an abusive, manipulative, drug addicted father and a scared, lonely, beaten down mother than it is to have a hardworking, supportive, loving SINGLE mother.

People like Mike Huckabee don’t care that my ex-husband was abusive.  They don’t care that my daughter was an angry, impatient toddler prone to fits of rage which mirrored the temper tantrums her father threw…but suddenly transformed into a sweet, reasonable, loving child with no hint of her former violence once he was out of the picture.  All that matters to them is that I CHOSE to become a worthless, stupid, incapable single mother who was going to let my child starve…all the while giving a bad example to every female I came into contact with.

Mike Huckabee’s quote was wrong on so many levels.  “Most” Single Mothers are NOT everything he claims.  A Census report from 2009 found that 80% of custodial single mothers are employed and only 4.3% of ALL single parent families (including single fathers) are recipients of Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF).

I think Melissa Harris-Perry, Ph.D., said it best: “These data show that although they are more often poor, most single mothers work despite the obvious difficulties of working while raising children without a spouse. They further show that our government actually does very little to support these women. These moms are hardly cash-sucking drains on national or state economies. Many of these women and their children could use more support, not less.”

Huckabee needs to shut his big, uninformed pie-hole.  Making the ridiculous assumption that all single mothers are poor, uneducated, and suckling the federal teat is both incorrect and insulting.  Single mothers are a favorite whipping-boy of the Christian Right, and this habit of vilifying these women has horrifying consequences.

This AWESOME pic was used without permission (sorry!) from a BadAssFemmes.Blogspot.com post in honor of HER single mother!

I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that there are scores of women who are making the choice to stay in a horrible relationship because of their fears of how they’ll be treated as a single mother, and are unsure as to whether they’ll be able to cope.  To those women, I want to tell you that you don’t have to put up with misery and pain just to appease the pious.

Being a single mother made me a better woman, a better mother, and a better partner. (see post script below)  I was socialized my entire life to believe that, as a woman, I couldn’t survive without a man, much less provide a good life for my daughter.  I proved myself wrong, and I proved the Mike Huckabees of the world wrong.  With a lot of sacrifice, a LOT of help from friends and family, I did just fine.

So ladies, they’re WRONG.  For those of you who have been abandoned by the man who was supposed to help you provide for your child, know that you CAN do it.  For those of you who are in horrible situations:  You CAN get out.  You CAN raise your child on your own.  I won’t lie, it will be tough, but if you’re tough enough to survive pain, misery, addiction, infidelity, and/or abuse, you’re tough enough for this!

Today, on International Women’s Day, of all days, know that you are strong, you are capable, and you will overcome.  You can do this…not in spite of the fact that you’re a woman, but BECAUSE you’re a woman.  You go girl!

Required Reading: Melissa Harris-Perry: Mike Huckabee: Wrong on Single Mothers

Read ACTUAL Census Data Here (instead of relying on a subjective assertion by people like Huckabee): http://www.census.gov/prod/2010pubs/p60-238.pdf

Post Script: A year after my marriage ended, I reconnected with my childhood sweetheart, and I was able to rediscover what it meant to be in a loving relationship of mutual respect–without the addiction, the neglect, the violence.  @HarrisonMurray came into our lives and immediately became the father my daughter never had, but that I always wanted for her.  She was very young, and has no memory of her biological father.  @HarrisonMurray and I will celebrate our marriage anniversary next month, and should be able to afford to finish adoption proceedings sometime this year.

Raising a child with the love and support of a partner is, of course, much easier than doing it alone…but raising a child under violence, neglect, infidelity, anger, and/or addiction is MUCH more difficult than doing it alone.  All the time wasted in a bad relationship with a bad partner and a bad parent could be time spent improving yourself, your family, and creating relationships with friends, family, and partners that aren’t dysfunctional.

I’m thankful for Glenn and Leanne, my amazing parents who NEVER let me give up or believe that I was not good enough, my wonderful loving husband Harrison, and my absolutely fantastic daughter.  The true joy and wonder of those relationships would never have been fully realized had I chosen NOT to be a single mother.

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Filed under Culture, Feminism, Politics, Twitter, US

We’re ALL Feminists, Damnit!

Photo courtesy of Ian Boudreau (@iboudreau on Twitter).

America, I’ve had it! I’ve really had it up to here with the accepted “I’m not a feminist” rally cry. It’s bullshit! Out right BULLSHIT!

If I hear one more woman say that phrase, I will knock them out cold. There is no way that you can be a woman (or even a man) in this country today and not be a feminist. Zero. But attacking feminists and feminism is a popular trick for the Right in this country, and sadly, as of late, a popular attack of conservative women on liberal women.

In her second book, America By Heart, (published November 2010) Sarah Palin says the following of Hillary Clinton circa 1992:

“…she seemed like someone frozen in an attitude of 1960s bra-burning militancy…she told us in no uncertain terms that she could have stayed home and baked cookies but she preferred to pursue a serious career…but Hillary, some of us like to bake cookies and we don’t have to run-down stay-at-home moms to feel good about our careers.”

A month later, Fox New Channel’s Megyn Kelly’s profile in GQ Magazine was published. In it, Kelly says the following:

GQ: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

Kelly: I don’t really love that word. That connotes a harshness and almost a shrillness that I find unattractive.

GQ: What is it about that word?

Kelly: Hmm, I respect women like Gloria Steinem who paved the way. But when you say “feminist” now, there is a message that if you are sexy and you acknowledge that part of your personality publicly, then it’s somehow an affront to women. And I reject that.

Kelly, a lawyer-turned-TV-personality, scorns the word “feminist” because she feels that it crimps her sexuality (she noted earlier in the profile that “it’s a visual media, people want to see the anchor” when asked why she sits behind a clear desk). Palin, beauty pageant contestant-turned-governor-turned VP candidate-turned media personality, derides Hillary Clinton as being “militant” and negative towards stay-at-home moms. By playing the long-standing divide between “working women” and “moms” Palin posits women in the workplace as cold, militant, and liberal versus stay-at-home mothers as warm, nurturing and representative of proper conservative values.

What Palin and Kelly fail to understand is that Second Wave Feminism (early 1960s to late 1970s) was epitomized as much by women asserting themselves on issues of sexuality, reproductive rights, and the workplace as it was by a rising sense of domesticity. In her phenomenal book The Feminist Promise, Christine Stansell writes:

“In the United States, the nexus of 1950s beliefs about female nature and family roles that Betty Friedan later called “the feminine mystique” resurrected the Victorian ideology of separate spheres. But 1950s domesticity thrived, too, on modernizing elements: consumerism, sexualized marriage, and civic activism. The idea was that men would work while women stayed home, to shop in stores where, unlike in devastated Europe, the aisles were overflowing. They would tend houses large enough for growing families – again, unlike Europe, where people were struggling to find housing, and they would heap on them the riches of consumer goods…They were to enliven their marriages with sexuality that drew in equal measure from girlish flirtation and the seductiveness of the femme fatale.
The push back into the home came from above, with policies that forced women out of high-paying, high-skilled wartime jobs by giving preference to returning GIs. But neo-domesticity also came from below, from men’s and women’s desires for a bountiful private life freed from the demands of sacrifice for the nation.” (183)

Sure, later efforts of Second Wavers included attacks on men and marriage, questions of whether a relationship with a man wouldn’t result in some form of exploitation. But the contempt that many Second Wavers had for men was due to the noticeable inadequacies between the earning potential of men compared to women. Men worked out side the home in higher paying jobs while women worked in the home or in low paying jobs. The higher wages earned by men “made up” for their decreased or non-existent role in domestic duties. Women handled a disproportionate amount of child-care and home maintenance. Women’s mistrust of men stemmed from each individual man’s role as representative of the collective male patriarchy, a patriarchy that was seen as demoralizing and exploitative.

Some of the most substantial efforts of the Second Wave were efforts made to give women voices within the system. Access to more knowledge (of their bodies, of their rights, educational opportunities generally), access to jobs and wider range of careers, more knowledge of sexuality and choices regarding their sexual practices and family planning. In doing this, Second Wavers laid the foundations for pot-structuralist Third Wave Feminism which disavowed Second Wave essentialism and opened up the boundaries of feminism to discursive power and gender ambiguity. Whereas the Second Wave had focused exclusively on women and had only in it’s ramifications impacted men and minorities, Third Wave embraced all races, ethnicities, sexualities, and paid particular attention to the post-colonialism, critical theory, and postmodernism.

Even though Second Wave embraced sexuality and empowered women to feel comfortable with their bodies, their sexuality, and to be active participants in their healthcare and family planning; it really wasn’t till Third Wave that feminism took a universal sex-positive position. The most prominent example of this change is the change in approach to sex workers, pornography and stripping. Prior to Third Wave these fields were considered exploitative towards women. Third Wave Feminism opened up the possibility of seeing women in these roles as empowered, that their choices were indicative of their empowerment. Central to Third Wave Feminism is the idea that women define feminism for themselves.

When Kelly and Palin attack women like Clinton for being “frozen” in “1960s militancy” they forget Third Wave entirely. They exacerbate ideological divides between genders by exacerbating ideological divides amongst women. A woman saying she’s not a feminist is like a drunk college-girl at a frat party kissing another girl, it’s a ploy to appease men by sacrificing themselves. When a woman undermines feminism because they think embracing it makes them a “bitch” or “cold” they enforce critique rather than embrace criticality. Feminism was never meant to be stagnant. It is an evolving notion and a collection of theories. Megyn Kelly disavowing feminism and sliding away from Gloria Steinem, et al, comes at a cost for all of us, not just her. Sarah Palin standing on Hillary Clinton’s shoulders while simultaneously burning her feet is a classic example of not just Right-leaning men but Right-leaning women sacrificing women for political inclusion or patriarchal acceptance.

We are all feminists. We define it for ourselves. We can embrace essentialism or contradictions. We can do all of this because of the militancy of those past. To marginalize those efforts is beyond insulting, it’s dangerous.


Filed under Culture, Feminism

Women’s History Month: Twitter For Feminists

First update for Women’s History Month! Woo!

FeministFatale.com posted a GREAT blog entry today on feminist organizations, activists, authors, etc, on Twitter. It’s almost the ultimate guide! Get to following!

Here are some additions of my own:


UPDATE: Want to add @toywithme for great, frank posts on sex and sexuality. Great stuff.

UPDATE: @hubbit kindly recommended Cara Kulwicki and her two handles: @thecurvature and @Feministe. I warmly pass them on to you.


Filed under Feminism, Social Media, Twitter

Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month in the US (expanded into a full-month of recognition by Congress in 1987). The National Women’s History Project has dubbed this year “Our History is Our Strength” a nod to the emergence of Women’s Studies as field of study and the achievements of women throughout history. Here’s some important links and events to commemorate Women’s History Month:

Feminist’s for Choice is taking submissions for the month.

The NEH has a great site on Women’s History. (Thanks to @vcthree on Twitter for the link)

On March 12, 2011 all Nordstrom will host “Fit America” events encouraging women to come in and be properly fitted for a new bra. Every bra purchased at Nordstrom that day will result n a $2 donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Call the lingerie department of your local Nordstrom or go online to RSVP.

Visit the Library of Congress’ page.

Check out Feministing for blog posts on “Gender Memory” and other great posts celebrating women this month and year-round.

Visit “The Ms. Education of Shelby Knox” and her “Radical Women’s History Project.”


Send me any links or events happening this month. I’ll be updating throughout the month.

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Filed under Culture, Feminism