In the 1870s, Julia Ward Howe attempted to start a Mother’s Day for Peace. Anna Jarvis started Mother’s Day as a memorial for her mother, and did not appreciate its commercialization. My grandmother, a “right on woman,” completely agreed, but ate the candy anyway. Here is my grandmother, Anna Zuckerman, accepting an award for her service to the Susan B. Anthony branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.     We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth aRead More →

Edie and Thea got gay married. The linguistic shift from gay marriage to marriage equality is interesting, like all politically motivated discursive choices.  Adding the gay label to marriage “spotlights” same-sex marriage, emphasizing its abnormality. Spotlighting, or using marked language, highlights what is notably outside the norm and establishes the unmarked category as neutral, making it the default setting or normal. Male nurse is to nurse as gay marriage is to marriage. Marked language, then, reifies heterosexual marriage as standard. “Marriage equality” makes sense, then, as the phrase of choice. The language of equality locates gay marriage in the venerable tradition of civil rights, andRead More →

Whoopi Goldberg said a few years ago, “I’m too old to compromise.” She meant compromise on her principles, not on other things. At my age, I understand what she means. In the past year I turned a corner where I came to say “Fuck It” to just about everything. I’m too old to nickel and dime myself into a corner on questions of value. My aging role models should be able to illustrate what this means. Traditionally, youth means power for women because they are judged on beauty. Age means power for men because they are judged for their accomplishments. But we are in anRead More →

Today the WMST-L is discussing having students write their own Vagina Monologues. This recalls the incident a Michigan state representative was banned for saying “vagina” on the floor. All that week I used the word vagina in as many Facebook posts as possible. Women should write their own Vagina Monologues. And they should have some teeth to them.Read More →

Can feminists own guns? Here are some slightly modified excerpts of a Facebook chat conversation between a former student of mine and me. The student has extensive military experience and gave me advice once about the Kid and the Marines. He also met the Kid once. This FB conversation was prompted by a speech in class delivered by a different student on the subject of AK-47s. Me: Did I tell you what my niece told me about the Zombie Apocalypse? Him: We always need new recruits for the apocalypse. Me: She told me that she and her boyfriend actually discussed leaving me behind in theRead More →

This week I received many Facebook messages urging me to tell my friends “where I like it” in my Facebook status. I’ve seen my friends post such mysterious statuses as “I like it on the chandelier” and “I like it on my car seat.” This morning I posted, “I like mine without pinkwashing.” Many people didn’t understand my status or why the meme makes me so angry. I have two simple answers: 1. I hate pinkwashing. 2. This is nothing but Facebook slactivism. Put differently, I do not believe that if I post an “I like it…” status on Facebook, I have done something significantRead More →

Nonverbal communication expresses power and dominance. In public, professional settings, who gets to touch whom and the nature of that touch play out and define gender relations. Because it’s typically subtle, people are often unaware of this dynamic. When it’s more obvious, those in the “one down” position see it clearly, and those in the power position remain oblivious due to their sense of entitlement. The stereotypical male boss/female secretary and male customer/female waitress interactions illustrate this over and over again. Of course, as gender roles change, the accompanying nonverbal behaviors change with them. Hillary is the perfect example. Let’s track the changes, from oldRead More →

Paranormal fiction and urban fantasy books are plentiful these days, but a large portion of them are vapid. Allie Beckstrom, the heroine in Devon Monk’s “Magic in the…” series, is a welcome contrast to the genre’s disappointingly passive Twilight female characters.   TV shows such as Buffy, Charmed, and So Weird made common the genre’s kick-ass female characters, and opened the door for urban paranormal’s expanding popularity. The burgeoning teen fiction/young adult market, born with the huge demographic hump of Gen Y, cemented gothy/vampy/werewolfy/witchy/faery stories as a permanent fixture at Barnes&Noble. Yet, as the genre boomed, its greatest strength declined in favor of the lowestRead More →

The Spice Girls represent “bustier feminism” in the 90s. It is no accident that Enlightened Sexism, Susan J. Douglas’s new book, opens with a discussion of this band. They represent the negation of feminism by commercial cooptation. The Spice Girls are the pinnacle of Girl Power and bustier feminism. They placed Girl Power, a frosted cupcake of an ambiguous message about feminism, front and center in the public imaginary at the turn of the century. According to Andi Zeisler’s Feminism and Pop Culture, the Spice Girls and the Girl Power they promoted were a “shorthand for a kind of a diet feminism that substituted consumer trappingsRead More →

The sex war debates still prickle feminists, and I’m predictably on the fence about porn. The title of the book Pleasure and Danger remains relevant because porn is both those things, a crucial point about sex that we should always remember. For example, recently on WMST-L, the Women’s Studies discussion list, someone posted a call for papers about porn culture. The call was clearly anti-porn, and the posting provoked a brief but rapid pro-/anti-porn debate before the moderator shut it down for being inappropriate to the mission of the list. The pornification of consumer culture, which is not the same thing as porn culture, isRead More →