By Elizabeth Reis
Students at Mt. Holyoke College are protesting the annual performance of Eve Ensler’s feminist classic, The Vagina Monologues. Their gripe with the play is that by focusing on vaginas, the play perpetuates “vagina essentialism,” suggesting that ALL women have vaginas and that ALL people with vaginas are women. Transgender and intersex people have taught us that this seemingly simple “truth” is actually not true. There are women who have penises and there are men who have vaginas. Not to mention women born without vaginas! Hence, these Mt. Holyoke critics imply, the play contributes to the erasure of difference by presenting a “narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman,” and shouldn’t be produced on college campuses.
By Austin McCoy
Rap artist Azealia Banks, who released her debut album, Broke with Expensive Taste, in November, made the news with her appearance on Hot 97’s radio show, Ebro in the Morning, in December. In her 47 minute interview, Banks railed against white Australian-born pop singer-turned rap artist, Iggy Azalea, Azalea’s boss, rapper, T.I., and against capitalism, slavery, and the appropriation of black culture. Azalea released her debut album, The New Classic in April, which shot up to #1 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip Hop Album and Rap charts. Her song “Fancy” dominated the airwaves. The positive reception even led Forbes to initially declare that Azalea “ran” rap. This declaration, which Forbes eventually dialed back, underscored Banks’s critique about appropriation and black women’s exclusion and erasure in the corporate rap industry. Banks declared, “At the very fucking least, you owe me the right to my fucking identity. And not to exploit that shit. That’s all we’re holding onto with hip-hop and rap.”
In the United States, female circumcision (the removal of the clitoral hood) and clitoridectomy (the removal of the external nub of the clitoris) are nearly always regarded as practices that happen someplace else. When their presence within the United States is acknowledged, these procedures are positioned as having come from the outside, as originating with immigrants from… Read more →
Today we have something a bit different: an interview with Professor Astrid Henry by Nursing Clio blogger Carolyn Herbst Lewis. Astrid is the Louise R. Noun Professor of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies at Grinnell College. She recently co-authored Feminism Unfinished: A Short, Surprising History of American Women’s Movements (W.W. Norton & Company, 2014) with Dorothy Sue Cobble and Linda Gordon, which Carrie Pitzulo reviewed for us earlier this week. Astrid also is the author of Not My Mother’s Sister: Generational Conflict and Third-Wave Feminism (Indiana University Press, 2004), and her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. She received her Ph.D. from the Interdisciplinary Modern Studies Concentration of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s English Department and has been a member of the Governing Council of the National Women’s Studies Association.
By Cheryl Lemus
As I write this blog post, I am recovering from an intense Thanksgiving weekend. Over the course of four days, I cooked, attended a Doctor Who convention, put up the rest of our Christmas decorations, and shopped. I am not ashamed to admit that as of 11:59 p.m. on Halloween, I hit the Christmas station on Pandora. Although I usually wait until Thanksgiving to decorate the tree, I actually put it up a week early this year. And this was not the first time I was in a store very early on Thanksgiving because there was a deal that I could not pass up. I am a liberal feminist, and yes, I am one of those people who loves most everything about the holiday. I cook, I shop, I share past traditions, and damn it, my tree looks awesome. This feminist loves Christmas. Kirk Cameron would be proud.
By Elizabeth Reis
As a women’s and gender studies professor, I am especially aware of my privilege in not having to think constantly about my gender. Because I fit most of the criteria of a typical white American woman, I never get questioned or called out on my gender expression, and so I’m free to focus on other aspects of my life, leaving this area relatively unexamined. There have been two times in my life when I thought consciously about my gender identity: the first time I had sex (“this is how it’s done?”) and when I gave birth to my first child (“this is what women do?”). With both of those experiences, I remember thinking to myself, “I’ve never really felt like a WOMAN, whatever that’s supposed to feel like, but many women do this, and so I guess I’m one of them.” And that was the end of that. Since both of these events, many years ago, I’ve been able to put the question of my “womanliness” on the back burner and instead teach about the history and politics of gender in the United States.
By Sarah Handley-Cousins
I have a confession: I love country music. I grew up in a small town that could have come straight out of a country song, with its one stoplight, large number of cows, and self-described “redneck” residents. Country music was, unsurprisingly, pretty popular. I stopped listening to country for quite awhile after I left home, until a friend took me to a Zac Brown Band concert — after that, I was hooked. My Pandora stations all had titles like “Today’s Country Radio” and “Country Love Songs Radio.” I even bought cowboy boots. One day while singing along to Florida Georgia Line’s incredibly popular “Cruise,” I found myself thinking, “Man, I want to be this girl.”
If you haven’t heard of Claire Wyckoff, the San Francisco woman who copywrites by day for a global advertising firm and in her spare time maps runs that look like penises (or other stuff) around town using the NikePlus app, head over to her Tumblr right now. Seriously, right now. We’ll wait. Wyckoff appeared all over… Read more →
By Sarah Handley-Cousins
Ten years ago, on October 2, 2004, Wells College, a tiny, women’s liberal arts college in rural New York State, announced its decision to become coed. Frustrated and angry, many Wells Women — myself included — protested by holding a sit-in at the main academic building in hopes of compelling the college board of trustees to reverse its decision. We refused to leave. We slept in our classrooms; we chanted and sang; we lined up from one end of the building to the other, arm-in-arm, our mouths gagged with black fabric to symbolize how we had been silenced by the Wells administration.
According to the documentary, “Lets Talk About Sex”, 10,000 teens catch a sexually transmitted disease, 2,400 teen girls get pregnant, and 55 young people are infected with HIV in the US every day. Meanwhile, despite these alarming statistics, our educational and political culture blurs, obscures, and shrouds discussions of sex with denial, systematically oppressing comprehensive… Read more →