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Posts from the ‘gender’ Category

Obama, Ryan, O’Reilly, and the Poverty of the Political Imagination

By Austin McCoy

President Obama, Paul Ryan, and Bill O’Reilly walk into a bar. Rather than engage in abstract conversations about the role of America in the world or the federal government’s role in the market, they decide to talk about an issue where they can forge some common ground. What issue could the three men come together around? It is probable they would likely converge around trying to explain and address the poverty of black men and women in the United States. This common ground is possible because national conversations about public policy never seem to escape the orbit of culture, meritocracy, colorblindness, and normative understandings of gender and family. More specifically, Ryan’s, Obama’s, and O’Reilly’s recent comments on the subject revolve around two political archetypes—the heteronormative family and the black male. When considered together, they take a special place in our nation's "gendered imagination."

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George Washington’s Bodies

By Thomas A. Foster

Many Americans could tell you that George Washington was tall and that he had false teeth. Why? Although he is disembodied in national symbols such as the portrait on the one dollar bill and the massive obelisk and the capital city that bear his name, Americans are no strangers to George Washington’s body. The history of representation of his physical body illustrates neatly the ways in which the body informs norms of manhood and how masculinity has long been part of his popular image and even our national identity.

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Intersex and the Environment: The Politics of Nature v. Culture

By Elizabeth Reis

It’s complicated for a person who cares about intersex, as I do, to grapple with the growing body of scientific evidence that environmental pollutants are producing an increase in genital and reproductive anomalies in animals and possibly even in humans. I have always understood intersex differences to be “normal” variations. We know that intersex has always existed (it’s discussed in the Talmud, for instance); and we need to recognize that not all bodies match conventional expectations or fit neatly into the sex binary. At the same time, I deplore the way that toxic chemicals, which have multiplied astonishingly in our world since the mid-twentieth century, are polluting our environments and causing harmful changes to our bodies. Intersex isn’t inherently a problem, but what if it was caused by one? How can I argue that intersex is a normal divergence in sex development and at the same time abhor the toxic degradation of our earth, which seems to be afflicting us, transforming our bodies in “unnatural” ways?

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Girls, STEM, and My List of “Ingenious Inventors”

By Carolyn Herbst Lewis

There is much talk these days about girls and STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. In 2009, only 24% of scientists and engineers were women. This is not surprising, given the fact that women comprise only about 17% of the students earning degrees in these subjects, as compared to the 79% of students earning bachelor's degrees in education. There are material benefits to building careers in STEM. A woman in a STEM-related career earns, on average, 33% more than a woman in a non-STEM field. Given the continued gender wage gap, and the high numbers of women in poverty in this country, it makes sense to encourage an interest in STEM. How to do so has been the tricky part. Colleges and universities -- as well as prospective employers -- actively recruit women to enroll in STEM programs. But getting young women interested in these fields has been more difficult. The old maxims that girls don't pursue these interests because “Math class is tough,” and their brains are not “hardwired” for it, no longer suffice. Researchers have found ample evidence that demonstrates that it is a combination of gender conditioning and a lack of role models that make girls feel that they don’t “belong” in STEM. This isn’t just about finding gender equity in the workplace or the college classroom, then; it's also about reframing the gendered messages we send to young girls and women about femininity and science.

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A Golden Girl’s Guide to Growing Old

By Cheryl Lemus

A few months ago, I decided to stop dyeing my hair. There were a couple of reasons behind this decision. In March, I started my new job as assistant professor of history for an online university, which means I work from home. One of the advantages of this position is that I don't have to get dressed. Working in yoga apparel and/or PJs is oddly liberating, although I have to remind myself to wash my face and brush my teeth. There is a freedom in forgoing a professional wardrobe, but I began to wonder if I still needed to color my hair, which I've done in one way (Sun In) or another (Clairol #108) since I was 13. Now that I work from home, the box of dye is sitting in the bathroom. I think laziness is driving my decision more than wanting to make some sort of statement about embracing middle age.

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Lady Doctors and Their Feminine Charms

By Carrie Adkins

Researchers at the University of Montreal recently reported that female physicians consistently outperformed their male counterparts when it came to providing high-quality care to elderly patients with diabetes. The study was extremely specific in its focus – it evaluated doctors’ level of compliance with three particular guidelines for long-term diabetes treatment – and fairly nuanced in its findings, attempting to account for factors like the ages of the physicians in question. It concluded that female doctors were more likely than male doctors to schedule regular eye exams, insist on frequent check-ups, and prescribe the combination of medications recommended by the Canadian Diabetes Association.

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Reflections on Transitions: How my Transgender Issues Class has Changed in the Last Fifteen Years

By Elizabeth Reis

In 1998 I taught a new class at the University of Oregon called “Transgender History, Identity, and Politics.” Back then there were only one or two students who knew what “transgender” meant when I asked them on the first day of class. The others had enrolled either because the class hours fit their time schedules or because they had taken other classes with me and liked my teaching style (or had received a good grade!). I have taught the class several times over the past fifteen years, but this term I have noticed a distinct difference; it’s astonishing how the class composition and its general knowledge about the subject has been transformed in such a relatively short time. Change happens.

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The Principle: A Short History of Finance’s Glass Ceiling

By Austin C. McCoy

The debate over who should serve as the next chairperson of the Federal Reserve (Fed) is indicative of the glass ceiling that persists in the world of finance. Many consider President Obama’s former economic adviser, Larry Summers, as the front runner to serve as the next chairperson of the Fed once current chairman Ben Bernanke steps down next year. Yet, several Democrats, economists, and journalists have voiced their support for the current Vice Chairwoman of the Fed’s Board of Governors, Janet Yellen.

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Suicide Is Not Beautiful

By Carrie Adkins

In 1963, Sylvia Plath stuck her head in an oven, turned on the gas, and committed suicide as her children slept. Her friend and fellow poet, Anne Sexton, memorialized Plath with a poem that linked them as suffering women who both had “the suicide inside” them: Thief / how did you crawl down into, / crawl down alone / into the death I wanted so badly and for so long, / the death we said we both outgrew, / the one we wore on our skinny breasts, / the one we talked of so often each time / we downed three extra dry martinis in Boston, / the death that talked of analysts and cures, / the death that talked like brides with plots, / the death we drank to, / the motives and the quiet deed.” *

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A Historian’s Guide to Summer-The Beer Edition

By Tina M. Kibbe

Now that I am back in my home state of Texas after being gone for several years, I wanted to write about a topic that might touch upon summertime, gender, and the history of medicine . . . so obviously, I decided to write about beer! Beer and barbeque in the Texan summer are about as ubiquitous as heat and humidity. While I’m not really going to focus on the summer specifically, I primarily wanted to use it as a springboard of sorts to begin this post on the history of medicinal beer.

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