As the year winds down the media stream is inundated with lists of political accomplishments, policy and presidential reviews and all of our hopes for 2010. Amid this maelstrom, I continue to remember that it was still in the last century that women were given the right to participate in the political process by voting and that the coming year's contests of candidates and legislation can, and should, be part of a modern feminist dialogue. In that light, today's Feministory focuses on a woman who worked tirelessly and radically through much of the twentieth century to secure equal rights for women: Alice Paul.
With Top Chef boiling down to its final two episodes (go Jennifer, go!) now seems as good a time as any to delve into the history of the fancy world of professional chefs. From Top Chef (yes, a television series, but fancy nonetheless) to the James Beard Award, there are tons of impressive accolades out there for ambitious chefs to get their knives on, and we love to watch it happen. So how did this culinary world come about? And is it true that a woman is behind it all? (Spoiler alert! Yes, a woman is behind it all!)
The success of Senator Al Franken's anti-rape amendment is one step towards greater culpability for sexual assault and sexual harassment on the job. This week's Feministory is another case involving labor, sexual harassment, and Minnesota: the first sexual harassment class action lawsuit.
All the poets Iran is famous for – Khayyam, Hafez, Rumi – lived hundreds of years ago... and were dudes. But modernist poetry in Iran is alive and well, and its most important female poet, Forough Farrokhzad, is a contemporary Iranian iconoclast on par with former prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh. Although lack of adequate translations made her little known outside of Iran, Farrokhzad became famous for her work in her home country before her untimely death in 1967.
I only ever flipped through Archie comics while waiting in line to buy groceries, bored by the overwhelming whiteness of Riverdale and confused by Jughead's hat. But it always seemed weird that a series about such a squeaky-clean golly-gee group of teenagers revolved around something as potentially controversial as vague polyamory. The series is over 70 years old, and its technology has changed with the times (Betty blogs and Veronica snaps pictures with her camera phone) but its gender politics are completely outdated. Betty's worship of Archie is portrayed throughout the series as admirable loyalty rather than creepy unrequited dependency, while Archie's inability to retain even a casual commitment to just one girl is framed as… completely normal. So this week's Douchebag Decree goes to you, Archie Andrews, you sly dog. Make up your mind.
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.