I am sorry for the absence of activity at Historiann lately–I’d like to say that it’s because I’m writing 3,500 words a day, but alas! I have fallen woefully behind in my scheme to finish one draft chapter of my book per month this autumn. The year isn’t over yet, so I’ll wait to report on the final results, but let’s just say that mid-semester business plus a few trips out of town got me out of the habit of rising at 4 a.m. to write.
It’s cold here, as it is pretty much everywhere in North America, but we don’t have the disabling ice and snow that afflicts the middle of the U.S. now. I actually took a (short) run yesterday. I think it was probably my coldest run in 23-1/2 years, as for the first time ever I thought a balaclava would be nice. My face was cold–no broken blood vessels, so we’ll call it good.
In the History of Sexuality class I’m teaching again with my colleague Ruth Alexander, we’re reading Heather Murray’s Not in This Family: Gays and the Meaning of Kinship in Postwar North America, which is a really interesting attempt to historicize the “coming out” process that characterizes the post-Gay Liberation era and injects a great deal of nuance into our understanding of how heterosexual parents dealt with gay and lesbian children from 1945 to 1990. In trying to find some video primary sources, I came across this interview with Lance Loud of the Loud family from An American Family. (Tenured Radical explains it all here.)
Our students didn’t seem to know quite what to do with Lance, which surprised me. Continue reading
Anna North nails it in this admirably brief but accurate analysis of the “women’s stories” peddled by the mainstream media:
These stories, in mainstream American media, tend to fall into certain categories. There are the ones about when women should get married. There are the ones about how women balance work and their children, told with no discussion of these women’s race or class, and with a strange disregard for the possibility that said children might also have fathers. And then there are the ones about hookup culture.
Hookup culture stories are extremely popular. The latest, Kate Taylor’s “Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too” sits as of this writing at the top of the New York Times’ most-emailed list. It is about women at Penn, but it is essentially the same story as this one about women at UNC, and though less overtly polemical, it is also essentially the same story as this and this and this. It’s not hard to see why these stories succeed: They are about very young women having lots of sex with multiple partners. They’re a lot like porn, except that instead of an orgasm you get a vague sense of free-floating anxiety. Continue reading
In a review of two recent novels that feature professor-student affairs, reviewer Michelle Dean asks where is the frank discussion of power? She writes,
The professor-student romance debate similarly breaks down, for the most part, to two opposing views. In one corner you have your Roiphes and your Paglias, who style themselves as revolutionaries for celebrating the power dynamics of the status quo. In the other you have feminists more aligned with Andrea Dworkin who seem to believe one can remove power from relationships entirely.
(Presumably, she meant to write instead “feminists more aligned with Andrea Dworkin who seem to believe one can’t remove power from relationships entirely. At least, I’ve never read a word of Dworkin to mean that there was any such thing as sexuality without power. This is a woman who was closely aligned with Catherine Mackinnon, the woman who wrote “man f^(ks woman, subject verb object.”)
So what do these new novelistic treatments of professor-student sexual relationships have to say about them? Continue reading
Attending a big conference like the Organization of American Historians is fun, especially when it’s in an pleasant place like San Francisco in the spring in mid-April. What I do is so marginal to the OAH conference that I’ve got lots of free time to attend panels and hear how experts in other subfields talk about their work, explore the city with old friends, and go to parties! Here are some observations and lessons learned, in no particular order:
- No matter how big the conference, you will never see some people, and you will continue to run into the same people again and again. Aside from the few early American feminists I kept running into at some of the same panels, over the course of three days every time I strolled through the hotel lobby or some of the other open spaces I saw either Roy Ritchie or Alice Kessler-Harris. I also never saw a colleague of mine who was there the whole time–not even at a distance.
- “Early America” now goes through most of the antebellum period, at least according to the OAH. Stop fighting it, Historiann and others who specialize in anything before the nineteenth century! I think I witnessed the single paper that included anything on the seventeenth century. These are now like the Dodo–and not even in much greater evidence at conferences like the Omohundro Institute annual conference. (Speaking of which: did you hear that they cancelled their party scheduled for Friday night when they learned that they had booked it in a club that doesn’t offer membership to women? Good for them, but that’s quite a huge loss on the party, in addition to what’s surely a major donor problem now.)
- (Aside on the temporal issue: I keep hearing that The Sixteenth Century Society is a fun group, and their understanding of the long sixteenth century is pretty long, from 1450 to 1660. Your thoughts? I was becoming kind of a semi-regular at the Western Society for French History and French Historical Studies, so I’m all for going European if that’s what it will take.)
- My source inside the Journal of American History editorial board meeting said Continue reading
Donna Brazile to marriage concern trolls:
Perhaps, if I’d had Ms. Patton’s wisdom and foresight about what really matters in college, I wouldn’t have taken so many pesky classes, and instead concentrated on designing my hair, makeup, attire and personality to create the perfect man-catching machine.
Perhaps it would have all worked out exactly as Ms. Patton implies — the perfect house, kids, husband and future. And yet I’m skeptical. I made a lot of stupid decisions in college; I’m really glad the choice of life partner wasn’t one of them. How many people, do you think, could choose a tattoo at 22 years old and still be happy with it by the time they are 50? Let’s be generous here: maybe a quarter of all people? And tattoos don’t even talk. Continue reading
Howdy, friends! I’m sorry about the extended blog silence–apparently, several of you have noticed the absence of posts here over the past few weeks, and are maybe a little concerned. Some of you have gingerly emailed me links and ideas for other posts–thanks! But my reasons for not-posting are even more trivial than being out of ideas: too much travel and too many RL command performances = too little time, energy, and/or reliable internet access for me to blog at all. (And then there’s my day job, after all.)
Other bloggers are on the ball. If you’re interested in intelligent commentary on marriage, civil unions, and the circus last week at the U.S. Supreme Court, then go see what Madwoman with a Laptop has to say about her visit to the famous marble steps last week, complete with photos and other interesting links. See also Tenured Radical‘s inaugural post post-Spring Break and her discussion about the economic and cultural privilege it takes for her and her partner to resist marriage while ensuring that they’re economically and legally protected otherwise. Smart stuff.
In any case: I’ll be back on the high plains real soon, and will resume regular posting post-haste. In the meantime: Continue reading
I’ve been thinking about marriage today–gay, straight, what have you. Fratguy and I have been in a civil union for 15 years. I think that’s the right term, as we were “married” by a notary (you can do that in Maine), but because we’re an opposite-sex couple, everyone calls us “married,” although neither of us wanted to darken the door of any church in the service of enacting our civil union.
But you get used to this kind of thing when you’re in a straight union–a lot of the time you benefit from other people’s assumptions about you. It means (for example) that you don’t have to carry around your marriage license as proof of your legal relationship. The words “husband” and “wife” really are magic in that respect–I’ve never been asked to prove it. My husband’s agreement about our status suffices.
Sometimes those assumptions are annoying–such as when other people lay their trip about what marriage is on you, and judge your marriage by their standards, not yours. (These assumptions are almost always about the behavior of women in marriages, not the men they’re married to. Men usually benefit from the assumptions people make about them as married men, even if those assumptions are totally wrong.)
In any case, this is all just a windup to direct you to go read Madwoman with a Laptop‘s thoughts on her 29 years with the woman whose wife she will never be, along with a really thoughtful analysis of civil unions, gay marriage, and her very intentional rejection of marriage and wifedom although her state now permits same-sex marriage. Continue reading