By Tiffany K. Wayne
Whether we like it or not, clothes and fashion are important markers of status, class, gender, and sexual identity. Just ask any high school student who is trying to present their own personal style or identity and comes up against the rules and judgments of parents, teachers, and society. Most schools today have dress codes regulating the length of skirts and banning t-shirts with offensive images and drug or gang references. Some schools also have gendered dress codes, such as the Virginia school which prohibits “any clothing worn by a student that is not in keeping with a student's gender and causes a disruption and/or distracts others from the educational process or poses a health or safety concern.”
Posts from the ‘Body Image’ Category
By Tiffany K. Wayne
By Elizabeth Reis
Thirty years ago I went to the Berkeley Women’s Health Collective to get fitted for a cervical cap. “What is that?” some of you might be wondering. The cervical cap is a barrier form of birth control, which fell out of favor when easier hormonal methods became more popular and more effective. It worked by inserting the cap before intercourse and removing it a few hours later. The cap blocked sperm from entering the cervix. And it had the advantage of not interfering with the spontaneity of sex because it could be inserted up to several hours before. I liked the method, but I didn’t like what I had to do in order to get fitted for it.
By Rachel Epp Buller
I witnessed a breakthrough this week, one of those “a-ha” moments that, as a teacher, is so terribly exciting. I’m teaching an undergraduate seminar this spring on Women and Gender in Art History. Since we’re a small school, though, we don’t have an art history major and many of my students come from non-art backgrounds. This means that most of the ideas and artists we’re talking about are brand-new for most of the students.
What was this “a-ha” moment? It was the realization, voiced by one of my students, that the display of women’s bodies that we see happening throughout the history of art is not really so different from the display of women’s bodies in contemporary popular culture. This may seem apparent to many of you readers, and the student in question was surprised herself that she had never made this connection. She is well-read in ideas of the male gaze, and considers herself savvy when it comes to critiquing mass media representations of women.
By Carolyn Herbst Lewis
This past May, I attended the annual meeting of the Western Association of Women Historians, which is one of my favorite history conferences (I’m pretty sure there is no other history organization that concludes its awards banquet with a sing-a-long). Usually I hate to miss any of the sessions. But this year, I snuck off with Cheryl Lemus and another historian (I’ll call her L) to do a little “mentoring” in the shops of Berkeley. This isn’t totally facetious, as we were on a mission: to find me a properly fitted sports bra. I had started running a few months earlier, and while I had great shoes and a snazzy outfit, certain other areas of my anatomy were feeling less well-equipped. Cheryl and L are seasoned runners, and they were appalled by my bounce. So, we headed to the only place where any self-respecting women’s historian would go for such things: Title IX Sports.
Elizabeth Reis is a professor of women’s and gender studies at the University of Oregon and is the author of Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009). This year (2012-2103) she is a visiting scholar in the History of Science Department at Harvard University. This interview originally appeared in Feminists for Choice and is reprinted with permission.
1. What was the motivation behind writing Bodies in Doubt?
So much of the “history” of intersex begins in the mid-1950s with a critique of John Money and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins University. This was an important period, of course, because Money’s protocols became widely adopted, but it was hardly the beginning of the story of the medical management of intersex. As an early American historian, I wondered what happened to those born with unusual bodies in earlier eras. I wanted to find out how the gradual process of medicalization affected our understanding of how male and female bodies were supposed to look.
Happy Birthday baby girl! Today you are six. It really does seem like yesterday that I held you in my arms just minutes after your birth. I remember thinking at that moment (and throughout my pregnancy) that having a girl was not going to be easy. As a historian I am painfully aware of hard it was/is to be a female. Yes, women have achieved quite a bit, but there are many individuals (male and female) who think gender equality will lead to the end of human existence, and who are hellbent on placing women within the box of inequality.
On July 27, 2012, the Summer Olympic Games begin in London. Depending on your interests, they are the highlight of your year in sports or just another blip on your busy life. For me, I’m a Winter Olympic Games kind of girl, but I do appreciate several of the Summer Olympic events and I, like most of the world, watched in awe and excitement as Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals in 2008 (I think I actually remember jumping up and down, screaming at the top of my lungs. You?) I am giddy at the prospect of him earning even more medals, and he is one of my favorite Olympic athletes (this list also includes Dana Torres). But as the games approached, what struck me the most was the imagery of the Olympic athletic body. Now, I work out on a regular basis (usually, if my hips and pelvis are cooperating), but as I enjoy the health benefits from my sweat sessions, I’ve also become more appreciative of athletes and athletic types. For them working out is not about losing weight or feeling better about oneself; it is actually a lifestyle, an integral part of their being.