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:
By Heather Munro Prescott
In an effort to show links between reproductive justice and environmental justice, the Reproductive Health Technologies Project (RHTP) is “calling all young people” to check a presentation on “Sex, Synthetics, and Sustainability,” on April 10 at 4:30 EST. The presentation will feature representatives from the the Sierra Club Global Population & Environment Program, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and Women’s Voices for the Earth, and special guest Stefanie Weiss, author of Eco-Sex: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable. Now, as I’ve written elsewhere, this isn’t the first time that birth control activists have reached out to young people by appealing to their interest in protecting the environment.
By Jacqueline Antonovich
-21 super creepy vintage Easter cards.
-Sylvia Plath wrote a delightful children’s book.
-Photos of famous authors as teenagers.
-What time of year is best for baby-making?
-Lady magazine trolling via 1939.
-Bill Gates wants you to have a condom that feels really good.
-15 awesome photos from a 1970s Gay Rights protest.
North Dakota has become a very dangerous place for women. On Tuesday Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple signed three anti-abortion measures into law. The first, HB 1305, bans abortions performed because of genetic abnormalities or for the purpose of gender selection; the second, HB 1456, bans abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat; and the third, SB 2305, requires any physician performing an abortion to have admitting and staff privileges at a local hospital. Individually, each of these bills makes it much more difficult to secure a safe and legal abortion in North Dakota, effectively policing patients’ reasons for electing an abortion, shortening the legal time period for seeking that abortion (fetal heartbeats can sometimes be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy), and limiting the number of qualified abortion providers in the state. Taken together, they constitute a full-scale assault on the rights secured by Roe v. Wade. I have questions. Who gets to decide whether a woman wants an abortion for acceptable reasons? How will the presence of a fetal heartbeat be determined — perhaps through a medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound? And with a single clinic currently operating as the only safe and legal facility for abortions, doesn’t this hospital-privilege requirement effectively eliminate abortion in North Dakota anyway? What are the class implications of making abortion available only to those who can travel out of the state?
By Carolyn Herbst Lewis
One of my escapes is reading Good Housekeeping. When it arrives in my mailbox, I usually take that afternoon “off,” and spend it on my porch swing, sipping coffee or wine as I page through it. Mostly, I read it and find the pleasure in all of the things that I am not going to worry about. The best recipe for mu shu shrimp? There is no way my picky son will put that anywhere near his mouth, so I’m not going to cook it. How to make the craftiest seating cards for a dinner party? Not gonna do it because my dinner parties are self-serve buffets. How to reorganize your closet so that it is color-coded? Not practical in my tiny hole in the wall. Lose five pounds by doing sit-ups before you get out of bed in the morning? I’d rather just hit the snooze button. It’s not that I find this information or these suggestions laughable or useless or anything like that. I do not mean to sound condescending or snobby about it. I love Good Housekeeping. It’s just that most of its contents don’t really have anything to do with the kind of household that my husband and I maintain. And yet I faithfully read it. Why? Because every so often there is something that works for me. [Like the suggestion to use a cup to amplify the music from my iPhone (March 2013, p. 29). I’ve been walking around with my iPhone in a coffee mug for the last four weeks. It’s brilliant.] And I really do find comfort in the feeling of being free from having to do any of the things that the GH articles suggest that I do to make my home, myself, or my family happier, healthier, or prettier.
By Jacqueline Antonovich
-Hippies worshipped Satan, smelled bad (according to voucher schools in Louisiana).
-Little House, alcohol, and gendered respectability.
-The immortal, shattered cells of Henrietta Lacks.
-Epidemiologist’s advice: Be afraid of your food.
-It’s been 45 years since the My Lai massacre.
By Heather Munro Prescott
Earlier this week , Tenured Radical (aka Claire Potter) reported on gender bias in Wikipedia in an article titled “Prikipedia? Or, Looking for the Women on Wikipedia.” TR writes, “It is no secret that Wikipedians are mostly male. Two years ago, Noem Cohen pointed to the fact that, according to the Wikimedia Foundation’s own study, only 13 percent of contributors to the site were female (New York Times, January 31 2011). “Sue Gardner, the executive director of the foundation,” Cohen wrote, “has set a goal to raise the share of female contributors to 25 percent by 2015, but she is running up against the traditions of the computer world and an obsessive fact-loving realm that is dominated by men and, some say, uncomfortable for women.” A little over a year later the foundation came out with new numbers: after this big push from the top, only one out of ten Wikipedians was a woman.”
By Ashley Baggett
About damn time! Despite its bi-partisan support from its inception in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) lapsed in 2012. Republicans and Democrats engaged in an intense debate on the terms of the bill as did the rest of the country. But on February 28, 2013, the House of Representatives renewed it. Not the watered down one. They passed the all-inclusive VAWA that provides resources for Native American, immigrant, and LGBT victims. Now we can continue the fight against domestic violence without regressing decades in the larger campaign for women’s rights. While most agree much more has to be done to end the violence, governmental intervention through VAWA is crucial to solving the problem.
We at Nursing Clio may be making “WTF? No, Seriously. WTF?” a regular feature — a place to express anger, horror, and disbelief at current news stories.
This is one of those weeks where the news – especially the kind of news circulating on feminist blogs – is making me incredibly angry. There are a lot of those weeks lately. Here are just a couple of the rage-inspiring news stories:
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.