Mommy, Daddy, Can I Have a Gun?

By Cheryl Lemus

My son is a bit obsessed with the game of Skylanders at the present moment. My husband and I were very late on the bandwagon of purchasing a Wii and even when we decided to; our son had to trade in his Nintendo DS and its games to purchase the game console and the starter package (we made up the difference). Since then, it has been a tug of war to maintain the number of hours he (and his sister) can play the Wii, while at the same time monitor what he is playing. When he first told me about Skylanders, one of the first things he said to me was, “Don’t worry Mommy, there are no guns and no blood,” and he was right, although I still think the game introduces him to mild violence. But then I remembered how many Saturday mornings I spent glued to the T.V. watching Bugs Bunny, while I ate a bowl of cereal. So I relaxed a bit. Yet, I was surprised that just as he mentioned Skylanders to me, he instantly reassured me that the violence included no guns and blood. At this point, you can guess that my husband and I are not gun enthusiasts by any stretch of the imagination and although my son has asked several times for a Nerf gun or something like that, we as good, but evil liberals, of course replied, “Hell no! Nerf guns will just lead you to the dark side of NRA worship,” or something like that. So by now, he knows that the question, “Mommy, Daddy, can I have a gun?” should never cross his lips. But I know very well that in many households that question would be met with a resounding, “Thank God our Johnny (or Jill) has seen the light!”

Adventures in the Archives: These Losses Which Are Not My Own

By Carolyn Herbst Lewis

Lately I find that my mind is muddled. I have accepted a position at a new institution, so both professionally and personally there are big changes ahead. In the meantime, I am caught in that strange space in-between. I am finishing up projects and responsibilities here, even as I am already making plans and thinking about my courses there. I look around my home and my campus office and all I see are things that need to be put into boxes. It is a strange time in which beginnings and endings are all tangled into one busy mess. No wonder it’s hard to get anything “done”.

Sunday Morning Medicine

By Jacqueline Antonovich

-Robots can fix your lady parts.
-Would you like to buy Hemingway’s racist telegrams?
-Was Jane Austin the first game theorist?
-Newly revealed letters give insight into a young J.D. Salinger.
-How coffee changed the course of history.
-Judging Hollywood’s best figure circa 1931.

Marketing Domesticity

By Rachel Epp Buller

One of the recurring themes in my “Women and Gender in Art History” class this semester has been the historical association of women with the domestic sphere. In the nineteenth century, we looked at examples of European art that addressed this clear cultural separation of spheres, where public = masculine and private = feminine. Of course, this cultural association of women with domesticity persisted throughout much of the twentieth century (think June Cleaver) and was cleverly marketed to women through seemingly endless inventions of domestic appliances and ever-better cleaning products.

By the 1970s, American feminist artists and writers began taking on the gendering of domesticity. Building on Betty Friedan’s arguments in The Feminine Mystique (1963), writers like Pat Mainardi critiqued the cultural assumptions that made cleaning a gendered imperative. In “The Politics of Housework” (1970), Mainardi examined the excuses used by her husband to avoid sharing the burden of household chores:

Emancipating Intimate Labor in the Care Economy

By Austin McCoy

On December 15, 2011, the Obama administration announced “administration action” to protect the nation’s 1.7 million home care workers. President Obama called for the establishment of minimum wage and overtime standards that all workers recognized in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) received. These new reforms would virtually eliminate the “elder companion exemption” in the FLSA that Congress established in 1974 which allowed home care employers to continue their exploitation of home care workers.

President Obama delivered this announcement four years after the Supreme Court decided unanimously that the case’s plaintiff Evelyn Coke, and other home care workers, were not entitled to minimum wage protections and overtime pay. Like most home care workers, Evelyn Coke worked long hours for little pay. Coke performed what scholars Jennifer Klein and Elieen Boris call “intimate labor”—she cooked, cleaned, and bathed her clients.[1] Coke worked 24 hour shifts often and she worked decades without receiving benefits. When Coke decided to sue for back pay, the Supreme Court ruled against her, reinforcing the historical stigmatization of intimate labor. Two years later, the home care workers’ movement lost Evelyn Coke. Home care workers are still waiting for Obama’s “administration action” four years after the ruling.

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead?

By Helen McBride

A week ago, Saturday Night Live paid tribute to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who passed away earlier that week. The SNL sketch featured Fred Armisen as Ian Rubbish, a Johnny Rotten type, whose dislike for the British monarchy and government inspired punk-rock gems. However, as we learn in this “documentary,” when Margaret Thatcher came to power, Rubbish’s reaction left his band, the Bizzarros, and fans scratching their heads. Expecting Thatcher to be “Rubbished,” Rubbish instead did a 180 and wrote songs praising Thatcher. What in world had come over Rubbish? Well we learn soon enough that his “love” for the Iron Lady developed because, wait for it, she reminds him of his mum. So there is no changing his mind. SNLs tribute reflects a myriad of responses to Thatcher’s death. Not surprisingly, the stormy reaction across Britain and Ireland over Baroness Thatcher’s death hasn’t escaped anyone’s attention. The decision to commemorate or celebrate her death in Northern Ireland in particular, was bound to produce a split in opinion. The relationship between Northern Ireland (and the Republic of Ireland for that matter) and Thatcher has always been tense. Recent revelations from former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson about Thatcher’s supposed mistrust of the Irish, and her equally naive and ridiculous Cromwellian solution to the “Troubles” (i.e. to simply move all the Catholics to the Republic) is just the latest in this deeply complicated relationship. Yet, the polarized responses to her death reflect not only her conservative policies that still influence British politics, but also reveal cultural norms and beliefs regarding gender and politics. Thatcher may have reminded Rubbish of his mum, but this reduced Thatcher to being a mum, not a politician, judged not for her (controversial) policies, but for her inability to fulfill feminine expectations.

Do Yourself a Favour: DIY a Rainbow

By Sean Cosgrove

Usually DIY anything means hours of pain and frustration: IKEA flatpacks, or a lost Sunday at the hardware store trying to work out how to correctly measure a straight line so you can progress further towards that table-making course which seemed so attainable months ago (clearly I’ve never experienced that…) The #DIYrainbow, however, is of a completely different ilk. I promise.

Sunday Morning Medicine

By Jacqueline Antonovich

-New moms: Carry around your placenta (all the cool kids are doing it)!
-Men fake orgasms too.
-Oh, those silly Victorians!
-Unpublished D.H. Lawrence manuscript reveals contempt for 1920s misogyny.
-Origami condoms.
-A pictorial of 1940s teenage culture.
-Worst male underwear ever.

Just Add Water . . . and Sperm

By Tina M. Kibbe

As an historian of science and medicine, I am always interested in both the histories of and the latest innovations in genetic and reproductive technologies. It is unbelievable how far we’ve come in such a relatively short period of time. These technologies are usually met with a mixture of awe and fascination or resistance and fear—it seems as if sometimes we are witnessing a glimpse into the future, yet it is actually happening in the here and now. I recently came across an article that actually made me stop and say, “Wow, really?” It’s about research into a new reproductive technology, but before I get to it, I want to do a brief background of revolutionary reproductive and genetic technologies that have sparked some intense ethical and moral debates. Specifically, three groundbreaking developments which have women/gender at their very core. Three developments that, as they were occurring, perhaps seemed like they were only futuristic, fantastic things that could never really happen . . . until they did.

When I Remember Margaret Thatcher, I Remember…

By Sandra Trudgen Dawson

When Margaret Thatcher died on Monday, her policies, leadership, and legacy evoked strong reactions. Margaret Thatcher has been hailed Britain’s finest postwar leader; the person who single-mindedly transformed Britain’s society; the leader who “did the necessary” to remake Britain’s ailing economy. She fought an Imperialist war and she won. Thatcher was the first woman to become Prime Minister of Britain and, considering the current pool of candidates, she might continue to be the only woman to achieve that position for the next decade. Educated at the elite Somerville College, Oxford in the late 1940s, Thatcher believed she could reverse the postwar consensus that laid the foundation of the welfare state and the idea that all Britons should have the right to a certain standard of living. She was a committed capitalist and believed that Britain had strayed from capitalism–or at least her form of capitalism. Thatcher claimed only those who worked hard and pulled themselves up by the bootstraps should expect a good standard of living, that it was a reward, not an entitlement.