Copyright Anne Taintor
Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times and a woman who has has her own struggles straddling the line between “revolutionary” and “the establishment,” has an interesting article in The Guardian about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s troubles “exciting” young women. “The ‘I’m a woman and it’s OK to vote with your uterus’ message is tired,” according to a Harvard students quoted in Abramson’s article.
So tired! Yes, that’s right: it’s so much more revolutionary to elect an older man president. Hillary Clinton has already run for president, like twice, so we’re SO over it. It’s almost like she actually got elected, or something. Can we just move on, already? (And has anyone in history ever accused American men of voting with their d!cks because they have elected a man for president 44 times in a row since 1788?)
The Whig of Illusory Progress goes to. . .young feminists, always.
Ah, well: it’s the same old feminist story we’ve seen for the past 200 years, isn’t it? As I have argued here before repeatedly, feminism is always the hapless frump of social justice movements. I used to have a semi-regular feature here awarding people with flawed understandings of how history works the Whig of Illusory Progress. Let’s just give young feminists of every generation a lifetime achievement award, shall we?
We love to blame feminists for everything they have done, and for everything they haven’t yet accomplished, and younger feminists are always eager to diss and dismiss their elders in the fight. This was Carrie Chapman Catt’s move against Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton; it was Alice Paul’s move against Catt a century ago; it was what the flapper generation did to both Catt and Paul after suffrage was achieved; it was what the so-called “Second Wave” did to the 1920s generation; it was what my generation in the 1980s and 90s did to the Second Wavers (with sometimes a literal attack on mothers and their politics and achievements, as in Katie versus Anne Roiphe; Rebecca versus Alice Walker), and now, it’s what the millennials and younger women are doing to my generation of feminists and to Second Wave feminists like Clinton. Continue reading
Hey, why the long silence on this blog? Long story short: I’m reviewing the copy-edits of my book manuscript, AND it’s the end of the semester, AND I’ve been so discouraged by the news of yet another mass murder in the U.S.A. on the heels of our latest in Colorado, not to mention the pure heroin-grade hate and fear that’s being mainlined into our politics these days, that I haven’t had the energy or the inspiration to write anything meaningful.
(Does anyone have a Naloxone shot for the body politic?)
I’m just busy, and sad, and so sorry. So very sorry. Continue reading
Ah, yes: freedom of speech. What some really mean when they evoke it is, “my right to have my say and not have you talk back,” like all of those crybabies who have cancelled their appearances at commencement ceremonies in the last few years because not every student and faculty member greeted their future appearance on campus with hugs and cocoa and slankets.
If you really believe in liberty of speech, then stop telling others to STFU. In my view, the people who are being criticized most vigorously for speaking up lately at Yale and the University of Missouri are all too often quiet about their experiences, silent on campus, and eager not to draw attention to themselves, and it’s these students whose voices we need to listen to the most.
Too many people have zero imagination about what it is to be African American or Latin@ on a historically white college or university (HWCU) campus. But everyone who has ever attended or taught or worked at a HWCU knows that African Americans on HWCUs are viewed with suspicion just for being there, let alone when they try to unlock their own damn bikes or organize a protest about their marginalization.
I teach at a HWCU in Northern Colorado, a place that is increasingly Latin@ but has very few African American residents. In my classes, my experience with non-white students in general, and African American students in particular, over the past fourteen years is that they go out of their way to be polite, inoffensive, unobtrusive, and try not to call attention to themselves in any way. Their efforts to try to fly under the radar and evade notice grieve me, even as I think I understand their interest in remaining quiet and unobtrusive. I work to offer a non-white perspective on history constantly, but I don’t know if I’m making it better or worse for my non-white students (or if they even care.) That’s the reality of attending a HWCU for the majority of black students in the United States: working hard to get your degree, trying not be noticed, not taking up much space or speaking up in class. Continue reading
“Could there be block parties about which I don’t know? Maybe they’re in neighborhoods where I don’t go.”
We’ve got another beautiful, warm weekend ahead of us on the High Plains. (All of this warm, temperate weather is making me feel like I’m still in California, only no mudslides, so it’s a win for us here!) Maybe I just need a visit from the Ice Cream Man: Continue reading
One of these things is not like the others.
Miss me, friends? I’m having a great time in the classroom again with my students, but clearly I need to figure out how it was that I was once able to manage my day job and to blog daily. Maybe I was younger? Maybe I felt like I had fresh ideas once upon a time?
Although I didn’t liveblog or Tweet about it, I watched the Republican debate Wednesday night from start to finish. I thought it was both highly entertaining and permitted the candidates to stake out and articulate their positions. There were some very important differences among the Republicans on the main stage–on federalism (good according to Mike “Two Buck” Huckabee when it permits a state to resist marriage equality, and bad according to Chris Christie when it permits Coloradoans to spark up without fear of Johnny Law), on U.S. borders and whether it’s good or bad to speak Spanish, on the previous decade-plus of warfare and other intervention in the Middle East, and on the most important question of the night: whether to honor your wife or your mother by putting her face on a sawbuck. (Srsly?)
I miss Rick Perry, but only because he was the closest thing to a handsome man anywhere near that stage. I’ve also decided that Rand Paul looks like just about every boy I had a crush on in high school in the 1980s, with pretty much the same haircut too. (Don’t judge.)
But this is a blog written by a women’s historian, and there is a woman running for President again on the Republican side, so let’s talk about Carly Fiorina and her interesting offensive on motherhood last night. Amanda Marcotte wonders “What Was Up with Carly Fiorina’s Grisly Abortion Rant?” in the debate last night. I don’t think it’s so difficult to guess–Fiorina is the only person on the stage who didn’t have children of her own. While the male Republican candidates eruped in a patronizing ooze about their wives and families when given the opportunity to introduce themselves to the general public, each of them name-checking their wives and most listing their children by name, Fiorina was at a disadvantage in the DNA-bestowing contest. Continue reading
This is a stupid story, but there’s an interesting nugget buried in the explanation for how and why a Young Adult author was chased off the internets for standing up for reality-based high school sex education and biology classes:
The Gilbert [Arizona] School Board—under the leadership of three Tea Partiers who consider Common Core to be a “pile of dog poo,” and with the encouragement of the Alliance Defending Freedom, the same organization that engineered the notorious anti-gay discrimination law in Indiana—had spent a great deal of time debating a section in the biology textbook that contains extremely “controversial” material about contraception preventing unwanted pregnancies. According to a local news report, some board members wanted to black out the lines that mention various birth-control methods, vasectomies, and—wait for it—drugs that can induce abortion; others wanted to rip out the whole offending page. Instead, the school board compromised on the instructive sticker.
At Salon, Swarthmore College alum Arthur Chu writes a brilliantly funny and angry screed about those silly “p.c. culture” articles published as clickbait by The Atlantic last week, and says exactly what I’ve been thinking and meaning to write all week long–just go read and think about it. His thesis is pretty clearly announced in the headline “So college ‘p.c. culture’ stifles comedy? Ever hear a comedian sh*t on the American Dream at a Wal-Mart shareholders meeting?” In short, Chu exposes once again that the term “politically correct” is a meaningless bludgeon only used against some forms of speech and protest, and not against others.
Chu says it all much better than I can, but I’d just like to add two things: although I’ve been guilty of it on this blog on occasion, and only in the distant past I think, the recent jeremiads about “kids these days” published in The Atlantic just make the authors appear sclerotic and judgy, as the young people say. Please protest if I ever write something as carelessly and thoughtlessly dismissive as those silly articles! (Pro tip to those worried about “p.c.” today on college campuses: the best cure for bad, silly, or uninformed speech is more speech, not a huffy demand that an entire generation of students S.T.F.U.)
Finally, I’d just like to add that although I think that I can teach college students a thing or two that might come in handy some day, I also think that older people should pay attention and see what we can learn from our students too. They are the generation that made sodomy laws and constitutional amendments preventing same-sex marriage fall so quickly. It wasn’t my Generation X, which has mostly been just about us instead of serving others or working towards political action. Even on a politically complacent, historically white campus like Baa Ram U. during the 2004 election, in which gay marriage bans were on several state ballots, I had majorities of students ask me in honest disbelief why anyone would be against same-sex marriage or harbor prejudice against gay and lesbian people. Continue reading