Category: Feminism

Crafting Womanhood

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.

I’m a Country Girl … Or Not

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.”

A Short History of the Penis, Masculinity, and American Feminism

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 →

Save Our Sisterhood: Reflecting on Single-Sex Education Ten Years Later

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.

Is Pop Culture Replacing Sex Education?

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 →

The Skinny on Back to School

Well, it’s that time of year again! The temperatures are dropping, the days are shortening, the leaves are beginning to turn, and the calendar is indicating that backpacks, pens and pencils, and school projects will become part of daily routines. For some of us, there also might be trips to the retailers (or clicks online) to shop… Read more →

The Feminist Fork

Like so many people, I have a complicated relationship with food. I’ve eaten out of anger, sadness, or excitement.  At times, food connects me with people and places.  I’ve even gone so far as to have mistaken food for love. Other times, shame accompanies me while I eat and comments on what I ate, how… Read more →

I am not a Vessel: Ireland’s Reproductive Rights

by Helen McBride

In a strangely prophetic report, the United Nations (UN) committee that monitors states’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights warned Ireland last month that its poor record on gender equality and on-going human rights injustices certainly would result in continued human rights abuses if strong measures to remedy this were not taken.

Then, just last week, a case emerged that demonstrates how considerable these reproductive rights violations can be. The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, which introduced a total ban on abortion, was enforced on a woman who had become pregnant following rape. Earlier in her pregnancy (the eighth week, in fact), the woman had requested an abortion because she was suicidal and the pregnancy was thus risking her life. Her request was denied. Last week, she was legally forced to give birth at 25 weeks by caesarean section.

What Claire Fraser Didn’t Know About J. Marion Sims

by Carolyn Herbst Lewis

I have a not-so-secret weakness for historical fiction series. I think, in some roundabout way, this is what started me on the path to studying history. I read the Little House on the Prairie books as a child, John Jakes’ North and South series as a tween, and it’s been my genre-of-choice ever since. But there is one series in particular that really is my favorite. Maybe even an obsession. I have no idea how many times I’ve read and reread the now eight volumes in the series. I’ve even considered going on one of those themed-vacations, where you visit sites featured in the books. It’s that bad. My obsession, I mean. The books are simply that good.

When I say that I’m talking about the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, I imagine that most of you who have read the books will know what I am talking about. I say “most” because I have heard that there are people who have read the books and didn’t like them. Seriously, what’s not to like? There is adventure. There is drama. There is time travel. There is really great sex. Unlike so many other titles in this genre, the storyline and many of the characters are decidedly feminist. I could go on, but I think I’ve gushed enough to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. Here I actually want to focus on a particular facet of the series: Gabaldon’s careful attention to the history of medicine.

Should We #FreeTheNipple? Maybe Male and Female Aren’t That Different After All

By Lara Freidenfelds

When I was little, I copied my dad and took off my shirt on hot summer days. He would be doing yard work, and I would be running around doing something or other that was sweaty and active. It felt great. A cool breeze works much better when it hits your skin directly. He encouraged me to ditch the shirt, and my sister and brother followed suit.