Who can defend the sexualization of work environments now?

annetaintorthelmalouiseI know it’s been a long blog-silence around these parts.  More on that later, but I’ve got something to say and I think we all need to hear it.

It’s gotten so a bish can’t look at the internets or the cover of the Rolling Stone without more news about scummy scumbag men using their professional authority to coerce younger women (and a few young men) to perform or witness specific sexual acts by these creeps.  Given the conversation all this autumn about sexual assault and sexual harassment at work in Hollywood (Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey), journalism (Roger Ailes, Mark Halperin, Michael Oreskes, politics, and literally every other workplace in the United States, I’ve been thinking back on a little post I wrote about this the summer before last, after another in which I argued that the American Historical Association needs to take a stand against the sexualization of the workplace, because 95 times out of 100, it’s young women who pay the price (along with a few young men), and the status quo serves only the interests of older men (and maybe a few older women too).

This isn’t an accident.  This is the playbook for sexualizing people and workplaces as a part of the process of marginalizing  and alienating the junior folks who get caught up in these relationships, whether they’re consensual or not.  This is also a primary means by which men re-create the hierarchy of men over women, again and again.  Exploiting younger women (which is the overwhelming majority of sexual harassment and abuse cases) is a win-win for these guys, because they can get their rocks off, and–here’s the beauty part–you keep junior women from becoming senior women who might step on your nuts about all this because you’ve created an sexualized environment in which the junior women must either become victims or collaborators.  Most of them will quit eventually, and the ones that hang on are compromised because they’ve been drawn in as collaborators (or heck, even apologists for the abuse of younger women.) Continue reading

Bear season, Colorado and royal castle-style

Hey-y’all!

I’m not in Colorado, but my sources there are keeping me abreast of one of my favorite things about summer there: close encounters with bears and cougars in the WUI (the Wildlife Urban Interface).  Today’s news does not disappoint!  A 19-year old camper in Ward was attacked by a bear.  The Denver Post headline explains that the  “youth camp staffer says he woke up with his head in the bear’s jaws.”  Yikes!

The earlier print edition of the headline describes the experience even more dramatically, in my view: Continue reading

Esther, encore, and farewell to the U.S.A.

Yale University Press. 2016

Friends, I know it’s been a quiet month on the blog.  What can I say?  The news moves at the speed of light these days, and it’s difficult for me sometimes to conceptualize anything to add to the frantic online conversations.  I wrote up a short article, “The Captivity of Otto Warmbier:  Outsiders, Insiders, and Mad Kings,” for Public Seminar a few weeks ago, just before his death in Cincinnati was announced.  I try to put his ordeal into context with the long centuries of North American captivities locally and globally.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

Esther Wheelwright, c.1763 (oil on canvas) 55.7×45.5 cm; © Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, MA, USA

I thought I’d also check in today to let you know that I’ll be in Boston this Wednesday night, June 28, at the Massachusetts Historical Society to talk about my book, The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright (Yale University Press, 2016).  I’m really looking forward to my visit to the MHS again, because that’s where the portrait of Esther on the cover of the book now resides.  The talk starts at 6, but come for the reception at 5:30 to say “hi” and have a drink–both the reception and the talk are free for members, and only $10 for non-members.  You can register online here.  I’ve got lots of beautiful, full-color slides of images that I could only reproduce in black and white in the book, so come for the wine, and stay for the polychromy. Continue reading

Call for Papers: Women and Religion in the Early Americas

Mary Maples Dunn, 1931-2017

Howdy, friends–I’ve got a big announcement today!  Many of you may know that Mary Maples Dunn, a prominent early American women’s historian, died in March.  Nicole Eustace of New York University invited me to co-edit a special edition of Early American Studies in her honor.  Here are the details:

Call For Papers: Women and Religion in the Early Americas

For a special issue in honor of the life and career of Mary Maples Dunn, Early American Studies seeks article-length contributions from scholars working on the history of women and religion in the early Americas. Mary Maples Dunn (1931-2017) was a leading practitioner of women’s history, as a scholar, as a teacher, and in her life as a university leader. She worked in a variety of fields from early American women’s history; to colonial Latin American history; to the history of religious women; to the history of women’s education as well as, of course, the worlds of William Penn and early Philadelphia.

The editors invite essays that consider the history of early American women, early American religion (or both) and are especially interested in work that makes cross-cultural comparisons or integrates multiple Atlantic orientations: North and South (French, British, Dutch, Spanish and/or Portuguese) East and West (from European and/or African links to Native American perspectives). We are interested in both formal article-length contributions (10,000 words) and in shorter essays on “Notes and Documents” that highlight innovative or creative ways of reading/using primary-source documents (3,000-5,000 words).

To submit, please email a 3-page CV and a 1,000 word summary of the contribution you propose to write by September 30 to Ann Little (ann.little@colostate.edu) and Nicole Eustace (nicole.eustace@nyu.edu). Please use the subject line “Mary Maples Dunn Special Issue Submission.” We will notify you of your preliminary acceptance by October 31, 2017 and final essays are due on April 30, 2018. Articles are to be published, subject to peer review, in 2019.

Continue reading

My review of Adele Perry’s Colonial Relations (2015) is live at Borealia!

Cambridge University Press, 2015

Hello friends–today’s post is just a little bagatelle from my review of Adele Perry’s excellent Colonial Relations:  The Douglas-Connolly Family and the Nineteenth-Century Imperial World (Cambridge University Press, 2015) at Borealia:  A Group Blog on Early Canadian History.  This is a “translocal” history of the extended family of Sir James Douglas (1803-77) and Amelia Connolly Douglas (1812-90) that spans five generations in the Caribbean, Britain, and all of the North American fur trade.  To wit: Continue reading

Know anyone at Evergreen State? I have some thoughts, but want to know more.

WANTED: MORE INFORMATION!

Did anyone else see this article from the Wall Street Journal last night: “The Campus Mob Came for Me, and You, Professor, Could Be Next?”  Some flava:

Racially charged, anarchic protests have engulfed Evergreen State College, a small, public liberal-arts institution where I have taught since 2003. In a widely disseminated video of the first recent protest on May 23, an angry mob of about 50 students disrupted my class, called me a racist, and demanded that I resign. My “racist” offense? I had challenged coercive segregation by race. Specifically, I had objected to a planned “Day of Absence” in which white people were asked to leave campus on April 12.

 Day of Absence is a tradition at Evergreen. In previous years students and faculty of color organized a day on which they met off campus—a symbolic act based on the Douglas Turner Ward play in which all the black residents of a Southern town fail to show up one morning. This year, however, the formula was reversed. “White students, staff and faculty will be invited to leave the campus for the day’s activities,” the student newspaper reported, adding that the decision was reached after people of color “voiced concern over feeling as if they are unwelcome on campus, following the 2016 election.”

In March I objected in an email to all staff and faculty. “There is a huge difference between a group or coalition deciding to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space in order to highlight their vital and under-appreciated roles . . . and a group or coalition encouraging another group to go away,” I wrote. “On a college campus, one’s right to speak—or to be—must never be based on skin color.”

My email was published by the student newspaper, and Day of Absence came and went almost without incident. The protest of my class emerged seemingly out of the blue more than a month later. Evergreen has slipped into madness. You don’t need the news to tell you that—the protesters’ own videos will do. But those clips reveal neither the path that led to this psychosis, nor the cautionary nature of the tale for other campuses.

Continue reading

Coats of Arms are bullcrap. We all know this, right?

Look what I made in 3 minutes with Google translate & the internet!

Liberal and left-leaning news orgs are happily publicizing the latest evidence of the dishonesty by the Human Stain (and his family).  He has allegedly ripped off another family’s coat-of-arms and rebranded it (you guessed it) as “TRUMP.”  I have a few thoughts that may prove unpopular, but here goes:

First, this seems to be a pretty venial sin compared to the heights of grifting and inept spycraft that he and his administration have reached in just 125 days in office, but okay:  more evidence of unscrupulous douchebaggery.  We get it!

But second, and my real point here:  historians know that coats-of-arms are all bull$hit, don’t we?  We know that all titles, knighthoods, and the like are all made up at some point or another, so who cares?  Someone was knighted or ennobled because he agreed to fight with the king, or let the king screw his wife, or loaned him money, or performed some such base and ignoble service to the crown, and that’s it.  That’s all titles and coats of arms mean!   Continue reading