Tag: Activism

Take Back the Knit: A Feminist History of Knitting in the US

On a recent plane ride, I pulled out my knitting needles to finish the scarf I was making. Normally I am the only person on the plane knitting. But to my surprise, the college-age girl next to me was crocheting a toy snake and another young woman a few rows up was using chunky yarn… Read more →

Women, Animals, and the Poetry of Activism

“What could be more calculated to produce brutal wife-beaters than long savage cruelty toward the other animals?”1 When Edith Ward posed this question in an 1892 issue of Shafts, a British feminist and vegetarian newspaper, she was calling attention to the similar ways that women and animals had been dismissed from moral consideration by men,… Read more →

Clio Flicks: A Vote for Suffragette

Full disclosure: I have been waiting for a decent film about the women’s suffrage movement for years. As a historian of women and gender, I am accustomed to disappointment when it comes to the portrayals of women on screen. Films about women’s struggles are few and far between. Even when the male-dominated industry does attempt… Read more →

Love Won: The Irish Referendum

Last May, the Republic of Ireland legalized same-sex marriage, just 22 years after the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1993. This was put to a referendum in Ireland due to the change to the Irish Constitution’s definition of Marriage. While there are obvious and real issues with allowing a public vote on human rights, the Yes… Read more →

Why Stonewall Needs Compton’s

One night in August 1966, a group of trans* women and queer youth rioted against years of stigmatization and routine police harassment. It started at a popular all-night hangout, Gene Compton’s Cafeteria, a chain restaurant in the Tenderloin and one of the few places trans* women could relax. In 1966 dressing as the “wrong gender”… Read more →

Obergefell Made History, and History Made Obergefell

History matters. Sober and sophisticated historical research can make a difference in the world. I am proud to live in a nation that now, per the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, recognizes the rights of gay and lesbian Americans to marry their chosen partners. And I am proud to be a member of the historical profession,… Read more →

“This is our Freedom Summer”:  My Reflections on #FergusonOctober

By Austin McCoy

My decision to participate in Ferguson October was spur of the moment. I did not plan to attend, but my partner and her roommate convinced me to go. My interconnected multiple selves — black man, job-seeking graduate student, and activist committed to social justice — waged a battle for my conscience and time. My multiple deadlines and obligations as a graduate student made such a trip inconvenient. Yet, I recalled my reaction to the George Zimmerman verdict. I remembered crying to express my helplessness and grief. I told myself that night, I would not be caught on the sidelines in the fight for racial justice again. I promised that I would do anything in my power to be present the next time, because, unfortunately, I knew there would be a next time.

Craftivists v. Hobby Lobby

by Rachel Epp Buller

Creative stamp arrangements. Cross-stitched fallopian tubes. Knitted uteri. This summer’s social media circulation gave witness to all manner of artsy protests surrounding reproductive rights. Practitioners of this sort often call themselves “craftivists,” a portmanteau that makes clear the use of craft for activist ends. (“Lactivism” indicates a similar word blend, regarding activists who mobilize around issues of lactation.) Guerrilla knitting, yarn bombing, yarn storming, and granny graffiti are all terms in the craftivist lingo (some lovely examples of which can be seen here). To get their message out, craftivists often work in public spaces – sometimes in a guerrilla, dead-of-night manner – and their colorful, even fanciful creations can provide a non-threatening point of entry for public discussion of serious issues. In July and August this year, craftivists made sneaky appearances at Hobby Lobby stores around the U.S. to leave art-based messages for the retail giant as well as for their fellow crafters.

Tits aren’t News – The Power of the Online Campaign

By Helen McBride

Last week I spoke at an event for Youth Action Northern Ireland, an organization that strives to make a significant difference in the lives of young people in Northern Ireland. One of the ways they carry out this mission is through their Gender Equality Unit, working “with those young women who are most excluded from resources and society to try to improve their access.” Part of this work is informed by the desire to challenge “traditional expectations of young women,” particularly those which deny their potential and their opportunities.

Breastfeeding 101: Why This Discussion Still Matters

by Rachel Epp Buller

I had the opportunity to visit Los Angeles over the weekend and facilitate a panel discussion about breastfeeding. The audience consisted of mothers of infants and toddlers as well as expectant mothers, who came for a “Mom’s Night Out” to hear from a panel of “experts” that included Elaine Stuart (childbirth educator and doula), Dr. Tanya Altmann (LA pediatrician), Corky Harvey (long-time lactation consultant and co-founder of The Pump Station & Nurtury), and Jamie Lynne Grumet (the mom at the center of last year’s controversial TIME magazine story about extended breastfeeding). After hearing some of the audience questions I was reminded once again why these discussions are so important, why lactation consultation is on the rise, and why there is a constant demand for breastfeeding classes and breastfeeding support groups: because breastfeeding is not always the easy relationship that most of us expect it to be, and mothers need this information.