Gender & political inspiration

Allyson Hobbs remembers the night in Chicago’s Grant Park in November, 2008 when Barack Obama was elected president, and asks “Why Aren’t We Inspired by Hillary Clinton?”

If Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination and the national election, can we expect the same gathering of crowds and the same emotional outpouring? Would the historic election of the first woman President evoke a similar thrill and sense of wonderment at the leaps that this country is capable of making?
Probably not. But why not? Is the election of a black man more revolutionary than the election of a white woman? Of course, one cannot compare the moment of an election victory of one candidate to a moment during another candidate’s campaign, a year before the election. And much of the excitement about Obama derived from the dissatisfaction with the President he was replacing. But the question remains: what’s behind the shortfall of enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton?

There are myriad reasons, and Clinton, of course, is not remotely as inspiring a speaker or campaigner as Obama. But another obvious explanation is the persistent problem of gender bias in American culture. Perhaps the sexism—in both overtly hostile and less visible but still insidious ways—has helped stoke the fires of animosity towards Clinton while, at the same time, creating an almost impossible standard for her. Unlike her male opponents, Clinton has to be far more careful and measured in what she says and does. To be free from a strict choreography of words and actions is a form of male privilege that Hillary Clinton cannot access.

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As they say at weddings: congratulations and best wishes!

Theresa Kaminski is all that:Peggyisboss

Why the swagger?  She sent her page proofs back to Oxford for her book Angels of the Underground:  The American Women who Resisted the Japanese in the Philippines in World War II!  Just in the nick of time, I’m sure, because OUP’s web page says you can pre-order it now and it will ship on November 2, 2015!  Just in time for Veteran’s Day (in the U.S., because we’re special) and Armistice Day/Remembrance Day (everywhere else in the Anglophone world, almost), as it should be. Continue reading

Stuck au millieu with vous.

Esther Wheelwright (1696-1780), ca. 1763

Esther Wheelwright (1696-1780), ca. 1763

I know I’ve been a very bad blogger lately–but I promise, it’s only because I’m trying to be a very good historian (or Historiann!) who makes my deadline for my book, The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright, exactly two weeks from today.  I’m at the point that it’s really not much fun any more, and my brain is making weird mistakes in-between French and English words.  I find myself not seeing words that I’ve written in French when I should use the English word.  I also sometimes forget if the word I’m scrutinizing is actually in French or in English.  (Those of you who work in languages other than the one you publish in can relate, right?  I hope?  Maybe I just need to work through my brain damage.)

There are some words that seem equally weird in both languages–like guimpe and wimple, just weird, amirite?–that confuse me now in my exhaustion.  A wimple is the large swath of fabric that a nun wears over her head and which covers the upper part of her torso in fabric, like a hijab but it doesn’t cover the face as well.  I can’t seem to remember whether or not I want to type ceinture or cincture, which describes the belt that some nuns wear.   Continue reading

Tips for bear-proofing your house: lock your doors and windows. (You’re welcome!)

Oh, hai!  Join me for breakfast?

Oh, hai! Join me for breakfast?

OMFG:  I think this state needs to issue basic intelligence tests for people who want to live in the Wildlife Urban Interface (WUI) zone in our foothills and mountains.  This morning, I cracked open my newspaper to read this:  “Boulder Heights plagued by bear break-ins.”  My goodness–this is news if local bears have become expert lock-pickers and safe-crackers!  I knew they were intelligent animals, but this is remarkable news!

But no.  There were no “break-ins,” unless you consider walking in through an open door or window a “break-in.”  People are going to bed at night with their doors and windows wide-open and are surprised to find entire bear families raiding their fridges:  “Most recently, one came in through a neighbor’s window, pulled all the drawers and trays out of the refrigerator and ended up devouring a pile of energy bars.”  That’s the thing about bears–they’re smart enough to zero in on the high-calorie, easily accessible foods you leave around the house, but they’re not in fact smart enough to outwit a locked door or window. Continue reading

Three: it’s a magic number.

This is how I’m spending my time on the world wide time-wasting web these days when I’m trying to avoid my book revisions for twenty minutes or so:  reading various commentaries that come in threes.  It’s fun!  And there are THREE of them, not just one, so more time-wasting that feels a little like intellectual work, but really isn’t compared to finishing my book! Continue reading


Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao writes a column in the Washington Post describing internet trolling, her company’s efforts to control it, and how the trolls turned on her:  “after making these policy changes to prevent and ban harassment, I, along with several colleagues, was targeted with harassing messages, attempts to post my private information online and death threats. These were attempts to demean, shame and scare us into silence.”

Without any self-awareness, trolls in the comments at the WaPo prove her right on every point.  No death threats there–yet–but lots of accusations that Pao is a “social justice warrior,” a “professional victim,” a “narcissistic careerist,” and comments I don’t understand demeaning her spouse.

Nice internet you’ve got there.  It would be a shame if anything happened to it.