Sick day, the method medicine way.

Not me–it’s Fratguy who’s under the (rather cool and rainy) weather, and another family member is undergoing a surgery today!  It’s going around, apparently.

Fratguy has experienced malaria-like fevers for the past 36 hours or so, which is a little too much Stanislavski-like method medicine and/or method colonial American history for me, but there you go.  He says it’s just a virus, which I think is a ruse designed to get me off his back rather than take him to see a physician.  Back in 1991 when he was in medical school and broke, Fratguy enrolled in a medical experiment for a malaria vaccine funded by the U.S. Army.  It was just like that old OFF commercial:  after getting the vaccine, he had to stick his arm into a tank full of falciparum-infected mosquitoes and get bitten by them!  Well, guess what?  The vaccine didn’t work, so he got malaria.  (And when you’ve had malaria, that’s a lifetime get-out-of-jail-free card for blood donation!)  But, he also got a ski trip to Whistler out of the deal, and I get a great little anecdote to trot out whenever I’m lecturing on the horrors of Jamestown or on the early English settlements in the Chesapeake and Caribbean in general.  Score!  Continue reading

Weekend round-up: splinters in our skirts edition

I go away for a few weeks, slacken off on my bloggy reading and production values, and come home to find many of my favorite feminist blogs up in arms!  Talk about some splinters in your skirts–but at least they’re funny!  Here for your enjoyment are some high quality feminist rants you may have missed aimed at the d00dz and the d-bags who don’t get how the femblogs work and/or refuse to learn.  I loves me some P.O.W.s (Pissed Off Women), so if you love a good smackdown, read on, friends:

  • Zuska sez:  “However, I’m sick to puking of seeing so much shit go down for so long and seeing so little change and seeing progress for women in engineering shudder and stall and hearing over and over and over and over again “we just have to wait for the old guard to die off and for spots to open up and for women to work their way up through the ranks and the younger guys will not behave in these stupid ways the older d00ds do and things are getting better and you can’t make women go into engineering if they don’t want to and men and women just prefer different career choices and it’s a fact of life that women have babies and there’s nothing you can do about it and we’d love to have on campus daycare for everyone but in these tight fiscal times we have to make tough choices. . . ”  And she’s just warming up!  Read on, read on!  It’s all about what we on this humble history blog call the Whig of Illusory Progress.
  • Twisty Faster, the Queen of Savage Death Island, designates the clueless d00dz who chap her a$$ “hanging chads.”  “These hanging chads, they really never get it. Because women generally, and radical Internet Feminists in particular, are to them some mystical, unfathomable alien species, they think we don’t understand them! It is hilarious, the predictability with which they all, without exception, every single time, enduringly and persistently, are compelled to lecture the ignorant Savage Death Islanders on the finer points of the superior dude civilization back on the mainland. Because if we just understood them, we would see how wrongwe are to experience Chadly privilege as oppression.”  Riiiight.  She continues:  “What all chads fail to grasp is that, as members of an oppressed class, we have always considered it a matter of survival and our No. 1 priority to grok the fullness of the oppressor. In fact, we’ve been grokking the oppressor’s fullness since the cradle, mostly without even realizing it. It hasn’t been too difficult, since we were all raised in the smelly nutsack of Dude Nation, and continue to be engulfed by and to marinate in dudelionormative swampwater all day, every day. Continue reading

From the mailbag: How to slip the noose of a T.A. assignment?

Dear Readers, I’m hoping that you’ll have some helpful advice for this correspondent, who signed hirself just “Grad Student.”


I’m hoping you (and your readers) can help me with a potentially delicate situation.

I am a graduate student at a major research university. There is a senior professor in my department who has made unwanted sexual advances toward me. I try to limit the amount of time I interact with him and make sure I am very professional when I do see him. I was recently assigned to be his T.A. for the upcoming fall term and need some advice on how to gently and delicately get reassigned. Although many people in the department know of his behavior, my advisor and other professors have been unsupportive. He is well-respected and influential in the field and I need to be careful in how I handle this situation.

Can you offer any advice?


Grad Student

I’ve seen this situation before.  Grad Student is justified in not wanting to work with this professor.  As I read the letter, Grad Student’s number one goal is to get out of the T.A. assignment, and larger issues like justice and fairness are less of a concern for hir now.  Because so much depends on so many different variables, I’m hoping that my readers will add lots of helpful advice and different ways to think about the problem.  Unfortunately, I can understand all too well how problems like this professor get ignored/minimized/and/or passed down the line, which is why Grad Student reports that “[a]lthough many people in the department know of his behavior, my advisor and other professors have been unsupportive.”  Ugh.  (Yet not surprising!)

My first two suggestions have to do with protecting yourself legally and preparing yourself for taking any formal action.  You may decide that that’s not the route you want to travel, but you should start here: Continue reading

Violence against dolls and women

Date:  June 9, 2010

Time:  10:50 a.m.

Place:  In the Northbound lane of an unimproved road in Lenawee County, Michigan

Longtime readers might remember that during my visit to Michigan last June, I stumbled upon a lot of dolls–in antique shops, and in museums.  Well, I almost literally stumbled over this one yesterday as I was out for my run.  Here she is, complete with a homemade sarong.  I put her on the side of the road in a patch of grass, in case the child who so carefully sewed the homemade dress for her drove back down that road to find her.  But, six hours later I went back to check, and no one had claimed her.  She’ll join the one I found on the beach in Maine last week on a run–a Barbie-like doll who had received an unfortunate haircut and was naked but appears otherwise uninjured.  I’ll give them a sunny afterlife in my herb garden.

It’s never a stuffed animal or other child’s toy that I find along the roadside.  It’s always beat-up or mutilated female dolls–baby dolls, Barbie-type representations of grown women, it doesn’t seem to matter.  I find it disturbing–which is why I can never not pick up an abandoned doll.  Continue reading

An organic cotton layette of one's own? (Srsly?)

Who's afraid of my non-motherhood?

Since we’re on the topic of “the ideal of the good mother” and her evil twin, the “bad mother,” and on the erasure of women’s history and feminist history in particular, I thought I’d share this trenchant observation from The Rebel Lettriste:

I have found the hipster baby store in my hometown, and its ethos and title just make me laugh. Let’s just say that it’s named after a certain famous feminist writer who wanted to have her own space in which to write. The store–which sells $16 baby hats made of organic Egyptian cotton, and sponsors mom meetups and classes on how to set up your nursery in JUST the right way–is named after this writer and her famous room. The owner advertises herself as having been a women’s studies and English major. And yet. The writer for whom this store is named never had children, probably didn’t want any children, and found her sister’s endless reproduction a little horrifying. She knew that having babies would destroy her ability to be a writer. She is not exactly the postergirl for adorably upper middle class stay-at-home moms and their perfectly outfitted babies. And let’s not forget that she suffered terribly from mental illness and eventually committed suicide. But who cares about that! Those little baby hats are so cute, and the store is so soothingly organic and English-y!

What was the store owner going for with this maneuver of naming her baby store after a famous non-mother?  Continue reading

"The Conflict": Encore? Vraiment? Or, mama's got a brand new whig.

Apparently, Le Conflit:  la femme et la mère by Elisabeth Badinter is big news in the Anglophone world now that it’s been translated.  (The title is usually translated as The Conflict:  the woman and the mother, a clunky and literal-to-a-fault translation if ever I saw one.)  The book was in the European press a great deal back in March, when I was in Paris for a week.  Well, according to more than one friend and reader, the “Fashion & Style” section of the New York Times has deigned to notice the book.  (Yes, that’s right:  feminism, motherhood, and la Querelle de Femmes is all just “Fashion & Style,” not fit for the Op-Ed pages, and not the news pages or the book reviews.  Why don’t they just go ahead and call it the “Women’s Page” again?)

I haven’t read the book yet, but it sounds intriguing.  The French are always much more serieux about their intellectual disagreements.  I get the sense too that feminism in France has always been understood to be a multifaceted social justice movement–le conflit among feminisms is inevitable and nothing new there, but in the Anglophone press which likes to manufacture girl fights, le conflit happens whenever a woman expresses an opinion on anything and another woman disagrees with her.

So just for fun, here’s the summary in the NYT.  Spoiler alert:  pay attention to the last sentence! 

In [the book, Badinter] contends that the politics of the last 40 years have produced three trends that have affected the concept of motherhood, and, consequently, women’s independence. First is what she sums up as “ecology” and the desire to return to simpler times; second, a behavioral science based on ethology, the study of animal behavior; and last, an “essentialist” feminism, which praises breast-feeding and the experience of natural childbirth, while disparaging drugs and artificial hormones, like epidurals and birth control pills.  Continue reading

We dwell in possibility

Public History Tour 2010!

Where in the world is Historiann on this summer’s random public history tour?  Well, here’s a clue on the left–some of us dwell in possibility, wherever we go.  I had never visited before, and neither had my subset of the attendees of the Little Berks conference this year, at Mt. Holyoke College.  The Big Berks–otherwise known as the Fifteenth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, will be at the University of Massachusetts next June.  (Check out that new website!)  The program committee meets tomorrow–so keep your fingers crossed if you submitted a proposal last winter.

So many interesting people are here–the elusive Clio Bluestockingshowed up, and seated herself near me at dinner last night.  (I’ve had a lot of people tell me they’re reading this blog–only compliments so far, but the conference is only half over!)  After dinner last night, Mary Beth Norton and Judith Zinsser spoke about the history of the Berkshire Conference, and the “ladies” who founded it (including the tradition of trillium-spotting and bourbon-drinking.  Unfortunately, threatening thunderstorms and hail had us looking for more indoor-oriented activities today.)  Norton noted that the official name of the organization is the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, not the Berkshire Conference of Women’s Historians, and she lamented that there are very few non-women’s historians who attend any more since the Big Berks conference on women’s history effectively “took over” the identity of the organization. Continue reading