"If you’re looking for quiet, soothing music that will lull you to sleep, put a record on your phonograph and spend the evening at home. But if you want to hear singing that will make the blood pound in your pulse, listen to the brown bomber of sophisticated song at Mona’s Club 440. Her name is Gladys Bentley and she’s as gifted with the piano keys as with her vocal cords."
Halloween has arrived! If you're still scrambling for a last-minute costume to wear out tonight, put down the "sexy cat" getup—Adventures in Feministory is here to help! Here are five costume ideas from the past year in Feministories, all guaranteed to make for great Halloweenwear (and you don't even need a pushup bra to pull them off). Click on the links after the jump to learn all about these women (and get info to enhance your costume)!
In the U.S., food marketing and consumption is highly gendered. In the funny pages, Cathy gobbles down chocolate and Dagwood constructs towering, meaty sandwiches. On the Internet, the Women Laughing Alone With Salad is an exemplary (and hilarious) meme. Guy vegans seemed like such a quaint anomaly that a Boston Globe reporter tried to make "hegan" happen in 2010. I say "in the U.S." because the nation apparently has an extreme case of food gendering, thanks to our robust and omnipresent advertising industry and a steady, though not necessarily high-quality or healthy, food supply. In a Salon article exploring gendered representations and connotations of food, Riddhi Shah writes "In the U.S., instead, it was an extension of one’s identity, a phenomenon made possible by the United States’ unique history of unrivaled luxury." Put another way: you are what you eat.
Women whom history has deemed as "mad" play an interesting role in pop culture. Some of them are viewed as romantic figures, their stories revered and retold as tragic love. Others are viewed as passive objects, mostly used as props in men's stories. Still others are retroactively diagnosed as "mad" due to their actions, even when men who did the same or similar things were not.
A lot of these ideas about historical mad women are embodied in the story of Juana of Castile (in English, Joanna), often known as Juana la Loca, or Joanna the Mad. She's been the subject of paintings, plays, operas, songs, books, and movies, almost always depicted as the mad woman whose obsessive love for her unfaithful husband led to her imprisonment, for the good of Spain. Sometimes she's accused of necrophilia, other times she's distantly diagnosed as having schizophrenia, with evidence provided by accounts written by people paid by her husband, father, and son to ensure that she was viewed incompetent to rule. She is rarely presented as having any agency of her own, and in an age where Henry VIII was having wives beheaded for perceived and actual infidelity, Joanna's "hysterical" jealousy of her husband's well-known affairs has been consistently presented as "proof" of her insanity.
Earlier in this series I did a post on the bluestockings and a Facebook commenter suggested I do a follow-up piece on Japanese anarchist feminists. I thought now would be a good opportunity to mention them and some more feminerd forerunners from around the globe, including Kurdistan, Indigenous North America, and even ancient Babylon.
To look in the "Blues" section of most record stores, you'd think it was only men who had troubles worth singing about. This week it is my pleasure to prove this assumption SPECTACULARLY WRONG, with a glimpse at some of the women who have howled, growled, whimpered and moaned their way through the Blues.
What do you know about Puerto Rican feminists? Not enough, right? Me either, which is why this week’s Feministory features a crucial feminist of the United States' often overlooked Commonwealth, Puerto Rico.