Thursday Round-up: What's Cookin'? edition

Man food--again??

Howdy howdy howdy!  Thursday is my busy day, but here at the Historiann chuckwagon we’ve got a few things for you to chow down on:

Sexism at The Nation? Surely not!

UPDATED MARCH 23: POLLITT RESPONDS, HISTORIANN RETRACTS SNARKY BITS

Then don't bother writing for The Nation, darling!

Via TalkLeft, we learn that Katha Pollitt is (once again) shocked, shocked to find there’s sexism at the house organ of the so-called American “Left,”  The Nation magazine!

It’s been a long time since anyone seriously maintained that women in power, simply by virtue of their gender, are reliably less warlike than men—how could they be, given that men set up and control the system through which those women must rise? But apparently Nation blogger Robert Dreyfuss has just noticed this fact.

In a post entitled “Obama’s Women Advisers Pushed War Against Libya” (originally titled “Obama’s Women” tout court) he’s shocked-shocked-shocked that UN Ambassador Susan Rice, human-rights adviser Samantha Power and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were keen on intervening militarily in Libya. The piece is dotted with arch and sexist language—the advisers are a “troika,” a “trio” who “rode roughshod over the realists in the administration” (all men) and “pushed Obama to war.” Now it’s up to the henpecked President to “reign (sic) in his warrior women.” Interestingly, the same trope—ballbreaking women ganging up on a weak president—is all over the rightwing blogosphere.

.       .       .       .      .       .      .       .      

[C]an you imagine a piece in The Nation titled “Black President Opts for Bombs” or “Qaddafi, a Man, Threatens to Massacre Rebels, Most of Whom Are Also Men”?

Misogyny—it’s the last acceptable prejudice of the left.  Continue reading

Groundhog Day at M.I.T., and everywhere

UPDATED, later this morning

The New York Times reports on M.I.T.’s efforts to recruit, retain, and promote women faculty in the Schools of Science and Engineering into leadership positions in the wake of its landmark study in 1999 revealing pervasive sex discrimination.  It’s good news–but M.I.T. is about where most American unis were about 20 years ago in their conclusions about the progress of women and the “new” issues that their success so far.  From the Times summary of the 2011 report:

In what the new study calls “stunning” progress, the number of female faculty members has nearly doubled in the School of Science since 1999 and in the School of Engineering since its original study was completed in 2002. More women are in critical decision-making positions at M.I.T. — there is a female president, and women who are deans and department heads. Inequities in salaries, resources, lab space and teaching loads have largely been eliminated.

“I thought things might get better, I thought people had good will, but I never dreamed we’d make this much progress in 10 years,” said Lorna J. Gibson, who led the Engineering School study.

Some of the problems noted in the report are brought on by progress: the university now struggles to accommodate two-career couples; a decade ago, women with tenure tended to be married only to their careers.

But the primary issue in the report is the perception that correcting bias means lowering standards for women. In fact, administrators say they have increased the number of women by broadening their searches. No one is hired without what Marc A. Kastner, the dean of the School of Science, called “off-scale” recommendations from at least 15 scholars outside M.I.T.

Among women on the science and engineering faculties, there are more than two dozen members of the National Academy of Sciences; four winners of the National Medal of Science; the recipient of the top international award in computer science; and the winners of a host of other fellowships and prizes.

“No one is getting tenure for diversity reasons, because the women themselves feel so strongly that the standards have to be maintained,” Professor Kastner said.

For many students and faculty–women included!–the mere presence of women and/or nonwhite scholars on a faculty in any meager number is prima facie evidence that “standards” are slipping.  Continue reading

Rodeo Queen of Heaven, hear my prayer

This is Arthur Lopez’s “Robert Reina del Cielo,” or “Rodeo Queen of Heaven,” a clever little santo, or devotional sculpture of the Holy Family that I saw today at the Denver Art Museum (more info here, although as you’ll see they misspell cielo.)  Ain’t it swell?  Dig baby Jesus’s hand raised in the preaching (and/or bronco busting and bull-riding) position, just as in the European tradition. 

At least it’s the most important parts of the Holy Family–the Madonna and Child, natch.  Joseph:  he’s always seemed like the Ken of the Holy Family to me.  Barbie and Skipper seem to do just fine without him.

Continue reading

Telling Histories: Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower

Telling Histories:  Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower, edited by Deborah Gray White, features autobiographical essays from prominent African American women historians that reflect on their careers, their tenure battles, and their struggles to invent the field of African American women’s history at the same time as they were forced to fight to make and preserve spaces for themselves within the historical profession.  I blogged about this book briefly two years ago, but just this week finally sat down to read it.  (Consider this my slight contribution to Women’s History Month blogging.)

It is good to be reminded of how new the field of African American women’s history is–the contributors to this volume were born in the 1940s-1960s.  They are people we know and work with, and they are truly a pioneer generation.  White’s introductory essay does a brilliant job of highlighting the awesome challenges of professing black women’s history from inside a black woman’s body: 

Educated African American women believed they had to overcome their history before they could do their history.  Yet the nature of the history they sought to overcome was so embarassing and demeaning [of racial, class, and sexual exploitation and abuse] that it kept them from engaging that history in all but the most indirect manner.  It was not by choice, therefore, but by necessity that we came late to the historical profession.

White and her contributors explain the many struggles that black women faced as they began to enter the profession in the 1960s and 1970s– Continue reading