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ismnotwasm

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Clara de Hirsch Home for Working Girls opens

(Generally I post articles like this in the HOF, but The Jewish woman archive is such a great resource I thought I'd start here)
Funded by a bequest from the British Baroness Clara de Hirsch, the Clara de Hirsch Home for Working Girls opened its doors on New York's East 63rd Street on May 22, 1899. Two years in the planning, the Home was designed "to benefit working girls ... to improve their mental, moral, and physical condition, and train them for self-support." With bedrooms for 100 young women, the Home was designed to shelter both American-born and immigrant young women either working or preparing to work.

In addition to lodging, the Home provided meals, physical exercise, and classes in housework, millinery, laundry, dressmaking, and other "domestic" and "industrial" skills. Reflecting the anxieties of its time, the Home sought as much to protect the girls' morals as to ensure their physical health. The Home's initial Board of Directors, composed mostly of women of German-Jewish heritage, believed that positions as domestic servants would be safe and appropriate for their charges, and that all the girls should ultimately marry and be homemakers. Therefore, they sought to train them in the skills that would serve them well in both roles.

In addition, the Home provided educational and social opportunities. Because it was meant to serve mainly Eastern European immigrants, the Home offered English language classes as well as elementary education classes. In addition, basic Jewish religious instruction was offered for one hour a week. Outside of these classes, residents were offered literary and social clubs, access to a library, and trips to museums, parks, and concerts. Finally, the Home sponsored regular dances in an effort to keep girls away from the corrupting influence of the public dance hall.

Mirroring similar efforts by Jewish and non-Jewish clubwomen around the country, the Clara de Hirsch home combined two distinct but related aims. Supporters hoped to aid and support newcomers who might struggle to survive and thrive in the harsh urban conditions faced by immigrants. In addition, they sought to Americanize their charges and teach them a well-defined version of middle class respectability.


http://jwa.org/thisweek/may/22/1899/clara-de-hirsch

White supremacy is alive and well: Ta-Nehesi Coates and the case for reparations



Signs of overt racism still are all around us, be it a New Hampshire police commissioner's use of an ethnic slur to describe President Obama or an NBA team owner's disturbing remarks about black athletes and fans. By now, we all know the drill, the media call these people out for their ugly words and we play our parts, shaking our heads in sad disbelief -- then return to our daily lives.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor at The Atlantic magazine, thinks it's time for a bold step to change the way we talk and think about race in America. This week, I speak to Coates about his June cover story for the magazine, provocatively titled "The Case for Reparations." In it, Coates argues that we have to dig deeper into our past and the original sin of slavery, confronting the institutional racism that continues to pervade society. From the lynching tree to today's mass incarceration of young African-Americans, he says we need to examine our motives more intently and reconcile the moral debt and economic damage inflicted upon generations of black Americans.

For one, Coates points to a century of racist and exploitive housing policies that made it hard for African-Americans to own homes and forced them to live in poorer neighborhoods with unequal access to a good education, resulting in a major wealth gap between black and white. In fact, the median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households, according to a Pew Research Center study.

"There are plenty of African-Americans in this country -- and I would say this goes right up to the White House -- who are not by any means poor, but are very much afflicted by white supremacy," Coates says. By white supremacy Coates says he refers to an age-old system in America which holds that whites "should always be ensured that they will not sink to a certain level. And that level is the level occupied by black people."
Coates explains to me: "I am not asking you as a white person to see yourself as an enslaver. I'm asking you as an American to see all of the freedoms that you enjoy and see how they are rooted in things that the country you belong to condoned or actively participated in the past."


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-moyers/watch-facing-the-truth-th_b_5378507.html

Sandra Bem, feminist scholar and psychologist, dies

Sandra Bem, feminist scholar and psychologist, dies


Bem
Sandra L. Bem, past director of Cornell’s Women’s Studies Program and professor emerita of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, died May 20 in Ithaca. She was 69.

She studied, published and lectured on the social construction of gender and sexuality, and for a time had a psychotherapy practice in Ithaca.

Born in Pittsburgh, Sandra Lipsitz was educated at Carnegie Institute of Technology (B.S., psychology, 1965) and University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ph.D., developmental psychology, 1967). She taught psychology at the renamed Carnegie Mellon University and at Stanford University before joining Cornell as associate professor of psychology and of women’s studies in 1978.

The Women’s Studies Program Bem headed is now called the program in Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies. She remained on the faculty until her retirement in 2010.

Daryl Bem, Cornell professor emeritus of psychology, survives her, along with a son, a daughter and one grandchild. The Bem’s marriage – and attempts to raise children “to be as free from society’s gender restraints as possible” – was the subject of Sandra Bem’s 1998 memoir, “An Unconventional Family.”

James Cutting, the Susan Linn Sage Professor of Psychology and department chair, said: “Sandy was a kind and astute reader of people. Long before she became a clinician, she could often be counted on to say wise and insightful things at departmental meetings. Her early work on androgyny was important for decades, creating a theoretical system in which masculinity and femininity were not opposites on a continuum but orthogonal dimensions in a two-dimensional space where anyone might fall.”


http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2014/05/sandra-bem-feminist-scholar-and-psychologist-dies

Precious Mettle: The myth of the strong black woman

The myth of the strong black woman
Tough
We are the fighters. We are the women who don’t take shit from no man.

We are the women with the sharp tongues and hands firmly on hips. We are the ride-or-die women. We are the women who have, like Sojourner Truth, “plowed and planted and gathered into barns and no man could head us.” We are the sassy chicks. We are the mothers who make a way out of no way. On TV, we are the no-nonsense police chiefs and judges. We are the First Ladies with the impressive guns.

Strong. Black. Woman.

The words fit together like blue oil, sizzling hot combs, and Sunday afternoon. They embody the idea of African American women as perpetually tough and uniquely indestructible.

But there is a dirty side to the perceived uncommon strength of black women. Ultimately, the “strong black woman” stereotype is an albatross, at odds with African American women’s very survival. Because, according to pop culture and media, we are also the workhorses. We are the castrating harpies. We are the brawling World Star “hood rats.” We are the cold, overeducated, work-obsessed sisters who will never marry. We are the indefatigable mamas who don’t need help. We are the women and girls who are unrapeable; who no one need worry about when we go missing. We are the scary bogeywomen on America’s doorstep in the middle of the night. And we are angry. Always angry.

For many women, there is undeniable truth, liberation, and empowerment to be found in the “strong black woman” meme. “Marginalized people have to be strong to survive,” says Heidi R. Lewis, assistant professor of Feminist and Gender Studies at Colorado College and associate editor at The Feminist Wire. “There are times when I assume that black woman resilience—the kind that allows you to face racism and sexism and heterosexism on a daily basis and still maintain your sanity and your health. I love that part of the strength that black women have had to have. That strength is real.”

Educator and social-justice advocate Deborah Latham-White remembers embracing the idea of black female strength as a teen at the dawn of the Black Power movement. “Black women were disrupting American beauty culture. We were starting to wear our hair natural as a political statement of acceptance and self-love.” But the currency of cultural strength wasn’t just halos of kinky hair and Afro-chic sartorial tastes. “We were also throwing up our fists in a sign of solidarity with the Black Power movement, as well as being actively engaged in struggle,” says Latham-White. Who would not want to be Angela Davis, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ruby Dee, Audre Lorde, Shirley Chisholm?

Today, loving profiles of another public figure—Michelle Obama, our nation’s first black First Lady—often focus on her personal and professional strength, particularly her exceptional education and career achievements, her egalitarian marriage, and her athleticism. An online search for “Michelle Obama” and “strong” reveals a host of images with America’s First Lady flexing her impressively toned biceps. Michelle Obama is no Mamie Eisenhower: This FLOTUS is positioned as a “strong black woman,” both literally and figuratively, making her not just a modern role model and icon to other black women and girls but to other Americans as well.

But in a society that finds little to praise in black women, other groups’ appreciation for perceived black female strength can feel like a reductive appreciation. Strength becomes one of few positive adjectives black women can own.


http://bitchmagazine.org/article/precious-mettle-myth-strong-black-woman

An opera singer’s backlash wasn’t just sexism

Thought this was an interesting take; I've never been to the opera and was planning on going, I heard "Carmen" was headed our way. This is just beyond sad.


It’s not just about the sexism – but don’t worry, I’ll give you a little angry feminist ranting about that too. And this is more than about body shaming, though there’s plenty of that in the tale as well. But mostly, this is about arrogance and snark, and what that does to artists — and the aspiring artists watching them.

Tara Erraught is a young Irish mezzo-soprano. Over the weekend, she made her debut as Octavian in the Glyndebourne production of Strauss’ gender-bending comic opera “Der Rosenkavalier.” This was viewed immediately by a bunch of male British critics as an occasion to comment on Erraught’s appearance. Writing in the Guardian, Andrew Clements marveled that “It’s hard to imagine this stocky Octavian as this willowy women’s plausible lover.” Sure, because who ever heard of a willowy woman going for a man with a different body type in popular culture? In the Independent, Michael Church said she had “the demeanor of a scullery maid,” while in the Telegraph, Rupert Christiansen not only called Erraught “dumpy of stature” but added that her costar Kate Royal has “recently sounded short of her best and stressed by motherhood.” Well, who knew the scientific link between motherhood and singing ability? And in the Financial Times, Andrew Clark casually mentioned that her part was “gloriously sung” but focused more on what a “chubby bundle of puppy-fat” the singer appears to him.


Fortunately, this across the board display of dismissive and point-missing criticism did not go unnoticed. Anastasia Tsioulcas a former editor for Gramophone Magazine, quickly acknowledged for NPR that “Yes, visuals matter — even more now, in the age of live broadcasts,” but added that “these critics have seized this as license to forget why anybody shows up at an opera house to begin with.” Activist Katie Lowe noted in the Guardian that “The supposedly authoritative, mostly male reviewers chose to make a female body a problem – a female body, one might note, that is not non-normative, but simply not thin and statuesque, propagating the old-fashioned, narrow-minded ideal of the room women should inhabit.” Mezzo-soprano Alice Coote, who recently played Octavian at the Metropolitan Opera, meanwhile wrote a blistering open letter in response, stating, “It is ALL about the human voice. This is the Olympics of the human larynx attached to a heart and mind that wants to communicate to other hearts and minds. It is something that is done without amplification and without barriers … It is one human singing to another … If young singers are pressurized into accepting a bigger emphasis on physical shape over sound and this becomes any more pressured onto them than it already is today … then we are robbing ourselves of the great singers of the future. We are robbing ourselves of the singers that will hit our solar plexus. And we are robbing our entire human culture of the HUMAN VOICE.”

But lest you think only women have a problem with the “She’s too dumpy” criticism, tenor Gwyn Hughes Jones posted a message on Facebook Tuesday that “It is not a gender issue. No one, male or female, should have to experience such blatant disrespect. That such a situation exists at all is utterly unacceptable. The peddling of the ‘Ken & Barbie agenda’ to the profession and to the public has done an unbelievable amount of damage to the art form, to the importance and relevance of genuinely outstanding singing in the business and to the vocal tradition as a whole. Important artists have been and are being marginalized because they do not conform to the aesthetic agenda the industry would have championed.”


http://www.salon.com/2014/05/21/an_opera_singers_backlash_wasnt_just_sexism/

The Case for Reparations

I like this article because it directly and fairly thoroughly addresses racist loaning laws against blacks which led to the lack of inheritable wealth among other things. I learned about this in collage---taking an elective, which led to another. If I hadn't taken the elective, I wouldn't know. This isn't standard history taught, as far as I know. Yet it's so very, very important.

When whites, such as my self, hear the term "Jim Crow laws" I believe we regulate it to some part of history we had nothing to do with, and aren't responsible for, much as we do with Native Americans.

How many of us know what happened after? When hard working AA families tried to buy homes? As the article goes on it addresses problems of today--not to sound trite but how one thing led to another, all backed by now 'unfashionable racism'. And how the fight STILL continues.

On edit; while I was taking the class, affirmative action programs were being rolled back. I thought it much too early, as did the instructor, what he said in class was "time will tell"


Clyde Ross was born in 1923, the seventh of 13 children, near Clarksdale, Mississippi, the home of the blues. Ross’s parents owned and farmed a 40-acre tract of land, flush with cows, hogs, and mules. Ross’s mother would drive to Clarksdale to do her shopping in a horse and buggy, in which she invested all the pride one might place in a Cadillac. The family owned another horse, with a red coat, which they gave to Clyde. The Ross family wanted for little, save that which all black families in the Deep South then desperately desired—the protection of the law.



Clyde Ross, photographed in November 2013 in his home in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, where he has lived for more than 50 years. When he first tried to get a legitimate mortgage, he was denied; mortgages were effectively not available to black people. (Carlos Javier Ortiz)

In the 1920s, Jim Crow Mississippi was, in all facets of society, a kleptocracy. The majority of the people in the state were perpetually robbed of the vote—a hijacking engineered through the trickery of the poll tax and the muscle of the lynch mob. Between 1882 and 1968, more black people were lynched in Mississippi than in any other state. “You and I know what’s the best way to keep the nigger from voting,” blustered Theodore Bilbo, a Mississippi senator and a proud Klansman. “You do it the night before the election.”

The state’s regime partnered robbery of the franchise with robbery of the purse. Many of Mississippi’s black farmers lived in debt peonage, under the sway of cotton kings who were at once their landlords, their employers, and their primary merchants. Tools and necessities were advanced against the return on the crop, which was determined by the employer. When farmers were deemed to be in debt—and they often were—the negative balance was then carried over to the next season. A man or woman who protested this arrangement did so at the risk of grave injury or death. Refusing to work meant arrest under vagrancy laws and forced labor under the state’s penal system.

Well into the 20th century, black people spoke of their flight from Mississippi in much the same manner as their runagate ancestors had. In her 2010 book, The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson tells the story of Eddie Earvin, a spinach picker who fled Mississippi in 1963, after being made to work at gunpoint. “You didn’t talk about it or tell nobody,” Earvin said. “You had to sneak away.”


http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case-for-reparations/361631/

Writing Her In: Wikipedia As Feminist Activism

Most of the feminist activism I do—whether it’s writing or teaching or protesting—requires a long view. A really long view. Sometimes I feel as if my feminist colleagues and I are saying and doing the same things over and over again, with little to no results to show for any of our work. And when I see yet another sexist commercial such as DirecTV’s newest that features woman-as-marionette, I want to throw in the towel.
But not on a recent Saturday afternoon that I spent at an Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon. The results there were concrete and immediate. In less than two hours, I created Wikipedia pages for three feminist artists who should have had pages already but who, like so many women, had been overlooked.

It’s no secret that women have been rendered invisible in history, sports, laws, medical care, politics, corporate boardrooms, museums, religion and the military. One of my professors in graduate school, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, used to say that part of what makes patriarchy so powerful is its erasure of feminist history. Without knowing our history, she’d say, without knowing about the work of the women who came before us, we’re left reinventing the wheel.
The Internet is now where histories are stored and accessed, and it’s where subsequent generations will go when they want to know what’s real, what matters.

But guess what percentage of Wikipedia contributors are women?
13 percent.
Yes, you read that right.
The annual VIDA Count tracks gender disparity in major literary publications and book reviews. I’ve been following their pie charts for three years now, and I’ve seen little change from year to year (although the 2013 VIDA Count did note that the New York Review of Books and The Paris Review are making some headway). To correct the gender gap in these established publications, you need editors committed to publishing work by women and reviewers committed to reviewing books by women. But to correct the gender gap in Wikipedia, all you need is access to a computer.
The edit-a-thon I attended was organized by artist Ellen Lesperance, a faculty member at Pacific Northwest College of Art (where I also teach) and one of the artists represented in the Portland2014 biennial exhibition, which was curated by Los Angeles-based Amanda Hunt.
Lesperance had attended a previous edit-a-thon this past February 1, which was part of a larger Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon that happened around the world in 31 locations. According to The Wikimedia Foundation,

The purpose of this event was not only to spread interest in topics needing real visibility on the encyclopedia, but also to empower women to become more involved in the community by providing a supportive framework for their contributions.

http://msmagazine.com/blog/2014/05/21/writing-her-in-wikipedia-as-feminist-activism/

First MEP for feminist party likely to win seat in European elections

The first MEP representing a feminist party is likely to be elected to the European parliament next week, as women's rights feature more prominently in election campaigns across 28 countries and rightwingers launch a backlash against gender issues.

Women are expected to continue to make up around a third of European parliament's 751 members after the elections, but the overall figure masks big gaps between countries and a right-left political divide.

Feminist parties in Sweden, France and Germany are contesting seats, with the Swedish Feminist Initiative on course to break through the 4% electoral threshold needed to secure a representation in Brussels.

"The figures are looking very good. They have risen over a short time," said Soraya Post, who would become the party's MEP. "People are taking a stand because they see a risk with racist and fascist parties, and they want to defend equality. Democracy is in danger, that's what people realise. But it's been a long journey. We should have reached beyond this in a modern society."

Feminist Initiative is campaigning on the issues of abortion, equal pay and equality regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability and age. Its demands include commissioners devoted to gender equality, race and discrimination. "The European parliament needs to have its eyeglasses on," said Post.


http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/may/20/first-mep-feminist-party-likely-win-seat-european-elections

The author behind “mansplaining” on the origin of her famous term

Interesting interview.


“Men explaining things to me had been happening my whole life”: The author behind “mansplaining” on the origin of her famous term
Your work has always focused on sexualized and gender-based violence. The second essay in your book, “The Longest War,” is based on one you wrote in the wake of the Delhi and Steubenville rapes. What are your thoughts on mainstream media narratives regarding rape and domestic violence? Do you think we are at an inflection point globally in public discourse surrounding these subjects?

Yes, I really do. Remember when Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered, more than twenty years ago? That started a conversation about domestic violence and how often it becomes lethal and how horrific and oppressive and terrifying and discriminatory it is. Then OJ Simpson lawyered up, in the way that incredibly rich men that do awful things to women do, like Dominique Strauss-Kahn, or the recent case of the billionaire, Gurbaksh Chahal, who recently got off on probation after hitting his girlfriend 117 times on camera. There are just so many times when other kinds of hate crimes get the attention they deserve, and I never feel that we shouldn’t pay attention to other kinds of hate crimes, but I’ve just waited and waited and waited for violence against women to be treated as a hate crime.

Last year I organized a campaign demanding that Facebook recognize violent misogynistic expression as hate speech, and it was clear that the idea of gender-based hate was a difficult one for many people to wrap their heads around. Why do you think that is?

It’s interesting to see how hard a time people have seeing that as a problem in this way. I mean, replace any number of words– “Jewish,” “gay,” “black”– with “woman” in terms of violence. But, I really felt like the New Delhi murder in 2012 was a watershed moment. That and Steubenville felt different. These were not treated as unique terrible crimes that have nothing to do with anything else. That’s the way that each case about rape or domestic violence is usually portrayed. We have three murders of women a day at the hands of their partners. These are supposed to be isolated incidents so that we don’t have to focus on the culture and no one has to talk about changing the system or addressing patriarchy and masculinity. The term rape culture has been useful.

What is different?

It’s because young women on campuses are doing brilliant networked organizing around rape and campus sexual violence. It’s because young women are speaking up. It’s because feminist voices are really coming of age. Engaged voices are changing the media coverage and not accepting the “Oh, it’s her fault. What was she wearing? Why was she there? She should just lie back and enjoy it.” One of the things that is most notable about 2012 was that all five of the Republican candidates who said exceptionally stupid and obnoxious things about rape lost their elections.

http://www.salon.com/2014/05/20/men_explain_things_to_me_the_author_behind_mansplaining_on_the_origin_of_her_famous_coinage/

( I'll be reading her book-- sounds very good)

How feminist biology is challenging science's gender biases

Is the science of biology sexist? Last week, in a co-written article for the journal Nature, the director of the US National Institute of Health (NIH) publicly admonished scientists for testing drugs and theories on male lab rats, tissues and cells, while excluding females for fear their hormone cycles might distort results. Research, the authors wrote, suggests females' cycles are no more distortionary than males'. Now all studies that apply to the NIH will be vetted for an appropriate balance of male and female subjects.

Such practices are part of the reason the University of Wisconsin-Madison established a new science fellowship last month to "uncover and reverse the gender bias in biology". Wittig Fellows of Feminist Biology will spend two years in the women's studies department critiquing biased research and producing new theories that "reflect feminist approaches".

The move is not without its critics. In a video for the American Enterprise Institute, Christina Hoff Sommers (also an opponent of "herstory", the retelling of history through female eyes) compared it to "galgebra" and "femistry", fake subjects Lisa Simpson considers taking at Yale.

Professor Janet Hyde, director of the Wisconsin-Madison women's studies department and creator of the new fellowship, is not surprised by the backlash. In an interview with New York magazine, she said the first fellows will have to do "spectacular research" to get any scientific respect.


http://www.theguardian.com/science/shortcuts/2014/may/18/feminist-biology-challenging-sciences-gender-biases

Christina Hoff Sommers hardly counts as a 'critic' just a wing nut.
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