For whatever inexplicable reason, I started watching Gossip Girl a few weeks ago. Tonight's episode featured Tyra Banks as an actress playing Josephine Baker in a movie. At some point during the episode, it was brought up that Baker was part of the underground Nazi resistance movement during WWII in France, which I did not know about (you can learn something from Gossip Girl, who knew?). Ergo, I give you this week's Adventures In Feministory: Josephine Baker.
Like speed metal and banda music, jazz is one of those musical genres
where the presence and contributions of female artists never quite
mitigates the overall sense that it's a dude's world. For Toshiko
Akiyoshi, crashing the sausage party as an Asian woman was extra
challenging. Nevertheless, the award-winning jazz pianist and big-band
leader was the first woman in the form's long history to compose and
arrange an entire library of music.
You know how most of the time everyone glorifies the forefathers of this nation and kinda glosses over the f*#$d up parts of our great nation's history? Yeah. Well, that's one reason why it's important to remember people like Oney Judge. Born in 1773 into slavery on the plantation of President Powdered Wig Boner himself (George Washington of course), Judge escaped after being offered up as a WEDDING GIFT to the Washingtons' granddaughter (and you thought that gift card to Target was an inappropriate present). Before we move on into greater detail, I'll let comedian Jen Kirkman take this one over:
Long before Lawrence Summers's unfortunate remarks at Harvard University a few years ago, there have always been powerful forces which assigned all manner of illogic to women's "inability" to excel at math and science. Their brains were too feeble to handle such difficult concepts, they claimed. And besides! Math and science were "right brain" and therefore "masculine" sciences so it wasn't in a woman's nature to be interested. Although there were some textbooks written to give women the knowledge they would need to carry on a polite conversation if the subject of science should arise, these books framed mathematics, physics, biology and chemistry in ways that the authors felt women could understand—through the lens of romantic love. Compound these shoddy arguments and weak study materials with the practice of barring women from attending universities and there was a pretty good chance you would not have seen an overwhelming number of women studying calculus 200 years ago.
However, there was certainly one women determined to pursue her love for mathematics, and she is the subject of our Adventure in Feministory today.
Doris Walker worked throughout her life protecting and defending leftist causes and activists. She participated as an activist and legal counsel throughout almost every major America progressive social movement in the twentieth century, from denouncing Jim Crow laws and McCarthyism, to being a labor lawyer and labor organizer, to helping to successfully acquit Angela Davis, and even challenging the Bush Administration's invasion of Afghanistan in Iraq.
Sackville-West was a woman with 'high class' problems — but her story
is interesting nonetheless. Vita was, in addition to her default
socialite status, a writer of prose and poetry, an avid gardener,
Bloomsbury Group associate and lover to quite a few women — the most
famous being, of course, Virginia Woolf. (More after the jump!)
This is not new information: Pat Benatar rocks. It's so obvious, I know. Yet I felt compelled to write this week's Adventures In Feministory about Pat because, frankly, I did not know as much about her as I thought. My recent renewed transfixion with all things Benatar formed because of her current tour with another ridiculously awesome '80s lady rocker, Debbie Harry. The Call Me Invincible tour might as well have been formed literally from one of my daydreams because Benatar and Harry are two of my favorite musicians of all time. Benatar's music is timeless, eternally relevant and oozes with lady empowerment. Read a little about how she got so damn huge after the jump!
While studying the Civil Rights Movement during college, somewhere along the way I heard about a young woman who, as one prof put it, "sat before Rosa Parks sat." However, this nameless woman was ultimately deemed "unfit" to serve as the test case to trigger the Montgomery boycott, which would precipitate the Movement. Why was she considered unfit? Well, as the story went, the young woman (actually a 15-year-old girl) became pregnant by an older, married man, and so the more reputable Rosa Parks took center stage. Read on to find out more about Claudette Colvin's "forgotten contribution."
The leaders of the [women's suffrage] movement trembled on seeing a tall, gaunt black woman in a gray dress and white turban, surmounted with an uncouth sunbonnet, march deliberately into the church, walk with the air of a queen up the aisle, and take her seat upon the pulpit steps. A buzz of disapprobation was heard all over the house, and there fell on the listening ear, 'An abolition affair!" "Woman's rights and niggers!""I told you so!" "Go it, darkey!" . . Again and again, timorous and trembling ones came to me and said, with earnestness, "Don't let her speak, Mrs. Gage, it will ruin us. Every newspaper in the land will have our cause mixed up with abolition and niggers, and we shall be utterly denounced." My only answer was, "We shall see when the time comes."
--First-wave feminist Frances Gage, reflecting on the occasion of Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" speech