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  • Originally published 10/16/2013

    Maxed Out

    Feminists have always known we can't "have it all."

  • Originally published 05/01/2013

    Mary Thom, Feminist, Historian and Editor, Dies in Motorcycle Crash at 68

    Mary Thom, feminist editor, writer and behind-the-scenes activist, died earlier this week in a motorcycle accident in Yonkers. Thom was the editor-in-chief at the Women’s Media Center. The center’s co-founders said:“We who are Mary’s friends and family haven’t absorbed her loss yet; it’s too sudden,” said Robin Morgan, Gloria Steinem, and Jane Fonda, co-founders of The Women’s Media Center. “Ms. Magazine, the Women’s Media Center, the women’s movement and American journalism have suffered an enormous blow. Mary was and will always be our moral compass and steady heart. Writers from around the world have been able to share their words and ideas because of her. Wherever her friends and colleagues gather, we will always ask the guiding question: What would Mary do?”

  • Originally published 04/22/2013

    Nancy Unger: When Helping Earth was Women's Work

    Nancy Unger is professor of history at Santa Clara University and the author of "Beyond Nature's Housekeepers: American Women in Environmental History."(CNN) -- Earth Day is the time of year to hear the usual polarized debates between liberals who lament humanity's reckless use of natural resources and conservatives who deny any human role in climate change and echo Sarah Palin's call for industry to "drill, baby, drill."This division is familiar, but it hasn't always been this way. After all, it was President Nixon who established the Environmental Protection Agency and signed the Clean Air Act. Long before that, social conservatives were in the vanguard of environmental activism in the United States, in part because of their traditional views about women.

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    Making the Historical Documentary "Makers"

    Professor Betsy West on the set of Makers. Credit: Columbia University School of Journalism.Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.--Maya AngelouThis past February marked the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Betty Friedan’s now classic The Feminine Mystique, a study of what Friedan called “the problem that had no name” -- the widespread unhappiness of many women who felt stymied by traditional female roles and had few options for meaningful work outside the family.  Friedan’s trailblazing book, with her call for educational and occupational reforms, has been seen as inspiring the modern women’s movement, and the ensuing conversation led Friedan to found the National Organization for Women.

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    Learning to "Lean In" from Our Nineteenth-Century Ancestors

     Caroline Wells Healey Dall in the 1870s. Credit: Smithsonian.Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says women "hold ourselves back" when we should be advocating for ourselves and "leaning in." If only she had known Caroline Healey Dall! With other feminists one hundred fifty years ago, Dall spoke up for herself. Early feminists advocated for each other too. Their tools and methods for smashing through and stepping over barriers may still be sharp and effective.

  • Originally published 03/10/2013

    Lucy Lobdell to Lilly Ledbetter: the First Steps on the Rocky Road to Equal Pay

    Lilly Ledbetter speaking at the Democratic National Convention in 2008. Credit: Wiki Commons.One of the enduring images of last year’s election was that of Lilly Ledbetter standing before the Democrat Convention and telling about her fight against Goodyear Tire for paying her less than her male peers. She won her case on the merits, but then the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against her saying that she should have filed her suit within 180 days of the first instance of Goodyear’s shorting her, each subsequent pay theft [my word] just a continuation of the first, and thus, regrettably, beyond the province of the law.

  • Originally published 02/25/2013

    Ruth Rosen: Rape: The Universal Crime

    Ruth Rosen, a former columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times, is Professor Emerita of History at the University of California Davis and a Scholar in Residence at the University of California Berkeley. Her most recent book is The World Split Open: How the Modern Women's Movement Changed America.The feminist writer Susan Griffin called rape "The All American Crime" in Ramparts Magazine in 1971. She was the first feminist to explain that men rape children, elderly and disabled women, not just girls dressed in mini-skirts. In other words, she challenged the belief that that rape was a sexual act, fueled by men's irrepressible sexual drive. Instead, she argued that rape was an assault against a woman, fueled by the desire to control and harm her, not a sexual act at all.

  • Originally published 02/04/2013

    Ruth Rosen: What Will It Take to End Violence Against Women?

    Ruth Rosen, a former columnist for the Los Angeles Times, is a Professor Emeriti of History at U.C. Davis and a Scholar in Residence at the Center for the Study of Right-Wing Movements at U.C. Berkeley. Her most recent book is The World Split Open: How the Modern Women’s Movement Changed America.Her father had a dream that his daughter would be educated and, like his sons, enjoy civil rights and liberties.  He was one of those unsung fathers who have played an important role in promoting the goals of feminism, yet remain invisible among the many more fathers who cannot embrace change in their societies.   

  • Originally published 01/24/2013

    Rebecca Solnit: A Rape a Minute, a Thousand Corpses a Year

    Originally posted on TomDispatch.comRebecca Solnit has written a version of this essay three times so far, once in the 1980s for the punk magazine Maximum Rock’n’Roll, once as the chapter on women and walking in her 2000 book Wanderlust: A History of Walking, and here. She would love the topic to become out of date and irrelevant and never to have write it again.

  • Originally published 01/23/2013

    Ruth Rosen: Roe v. Wade and Beyond

    Ruth Rosen, a former columnist for the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, is Professor Emerita of History at UC-Davis and a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Right-Wing Movements at UC-Berkeley. Her most recent book is The World Split Open: How the Modern Women’s Movement Changed America.On the day that Roe v. Wade was handed down, I felt a mixture of elation and panic. A new future loomed in which unwanted pregnancies would no longer send women to quacks, rushing them to hospitals with raging infections and perhaps to their deaths. I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that many lives would be saved.At the same time, I knew that this historic decision had started the culture wars, even though I didn’t have the language to explain my thoughts. As a young historian, I realized that the Supreme Court had given us abortion rights and what the Court gave, the Court could take away. Even more, I understood that we had not received this right through congressional legislation, which would have reflected a greater consensus among Americans. But I also knew that there had not been enough national conversation for legislation that would have legalized abortion, so a Court decision was the only way, at that time, that we could have gained reproductive rights.

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Linda Gordon: Why Abortion Is a Labor Issue

    Linda Gordon is a University Professor of the Humanities and professor of history at NYU, teaching courses on gender, social movements, imperialism and the 20th-century U.S. in general. She has published a number of prize-winning works of history and won many prestigious awards, including Guggenheim, NEH, ACLS, Radcliffe Institute and the New York Public Library¹s Cullman Center fellowships.On Dec. 11, 2012, Michigan passed two right-to-work laws, one for public and one for private employees. As even our president said, “right to work” in this case means “right to work for lower wages.” These laws do not free workers to reject joining a union, because they already have that right. Instead, the laws abolish the requirement that those who don’t join a union pay the equivalent of union dues, a requirement designed to prevent “free riders”—workers who benefit from union contracts without paying their fair share.

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Five Myths about Roe v. Wade

    Supreme Court Building. Credit: Wiki Commons.Originally posted on the UNC Press Blog.On January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in Roe v. Wade, the abortion rights case that culminated in one of the most controversial legal rulings in the country’s history. Forty years later, numerous myths continue to circulate about the contents and meanings of Roe. Here are five of the most significant:Myth #1: Roe endorsed abortion on demand.

  • Originally published 01/16/2013

    In Memoriam: Gerda Lerner

    Gerda Lerner in an 2012 interview. Credit: UW-Madison.Gerda Lerner, eminent scholar and pioneer in the field of women’s history, passed away on January 2, 2013, at age 92. There are so many ways and reasons to remember Gerda Lerner: her activism on behalf of women and women historians; her invaluable scholarship; her irascibility in the face of injustice; her demands on herself and on the profession; her inspiration and her gifts.

  • Originally published 04/23/2015

    Misrepresenting the Austrian "Revival"

    Wasserman’s claim chafes with the history of the 1970s program, even to the extent that many of the economists he places on the outside of the aforementioned revival – Fritz Machlup and Gottfried Haberler – were actually active participants in a much broader discussion than his narrative permits.The first modern Austrian conference occurred in June of 1974 at South Royalton, Vermont, and is ably recounted in an article by the late John Blundell. I conversed extensively with Blundell about this and other events of the Austrian resurgence before he passed away last summer, making an effort to document the economists of note who participated in these formative conferences and panels. What struck me at the time, and what Blundell repeatedly emphasized, was the broad range of prominent scholars who took an interest in what was happening in the Austrian camp at this point in history. Not all agreed with a doctrinaire reading of Hayek and Mises, but contrary to Wasserman’s claim, the “revived” Austrian school of the 1970s had multiple thoroughly ecumenical dimensions that linked it back to its historical early 20th century presence in Vienna and London.The “revived” Austrian school’s Vienna and LSE connections:The most glaring omission in Wasserman’s piece is undoubtedly Ludwig M. Lachmann, a German-born economist who studied the original Viennese Austrian school in the 1920s, subsequently taught with Hayek at the London School of Economics, and went on to a lengthy academic career at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. Along with American-trained Austrians Israel Kirzner and Murray Rothbard, Lachmann was one of the three primary lecturers at the 1974 conference. He lectured at 11 additional IHS conferences before his death in 1990, and spent his retirement on an annual winter visiting professorship at NYU from 1975 to 1987.Fritz Machlup and Ludwig M. Lachmann, Austrian Economics Conference (1978)The 1970s revival drew in multiple other veterans of the Austrian school’s Vienna and LSE days. The German-born Emil Kauder, an important interpreter of Carl Menger, participated in the 1975 Austrian conference in Hartford, Connecticut. Princeton’s Fritz Machlup, presented by Wasserman as having been largely excluded from the modern Austrian resurgence, was actually an active presence during the “revival” years. Though distinctively cautious in his own liberalism, he brought substantial credibility to the “new” wave of Austrian scholarly output, working in particular with the University of Virginia’s Leland Yeager and Lawrence Moss to establish what became a lasting Austrian presence at mainstream academic conferences. To this end Machlup chaired an important early session on Austrian thought at the 1974 Southern Economics Association meeting, which was also published in book form, presided over a lunch panel on Austrian thought at the 1975 American Economics Association conference (attended by Haberler as well as future Nobel winners James Buchanan and William Vickrey), and lectured at the 1978 IHS Austrian conference at NYU. Haberler similarly attended a number of Austrian-themed events that IHS sponsored in the early 1970s, as did multiple LSE era veterans of note who crossed paths with Hayek in the 1930s. Other recurring presences at these Austrian events from broadly aligned intellectual traditions included such notables as Buchanan, Harold Demsetz, and Gordon Tullock.The LSE group sometimes hailed from outside the Austrian camp, though its members actively conversed with the Austrian literature and shared the common link of studying under Hayek in the 1930s. Two of his students Abba Lerner and G.L.S. Shackle each attended an Austrian in 1974, and Shackle contributed a paper to an IHS-sponsored book of essays on new Austrian research themes. Hayek’s old LSE colleague Lionel Robbins similarly addressed an Austrian conference organized by the London-based Carl Menger Society in 1976, with Hayek present as a commentator and his old LSE student Arthur Seldon as an organizer. John Hicks, the famous Keynesian economist and fellow Nobel laureate, also presented at the 1978 NYU Austrian conference. He contributed a chapter to a book on new Austrian research themes that grew out of the event, praising the anti-inflationary insights of the Austrians and suggested the broader discipline needed room for Mises and Keynes alike. Lachmann – whose academic association with Hicks went back over four decades – provided the response.Now it is entirely fair to note that these names include a very diverse and eclectic group. Some such as Lachmann were central contributors to the Austrian resurgence, whereas others simply crossed paths with the historical Austrian tradition at Vienna and LSE. Yet these conferences, panels, books, articles, and edited volumes were all components of an effort to rejuvenate the Austrian scholarly tradition of old, and tap into its renewed academic interest after the South Royalton meeting and Hayek’s nobel. Plainly that interest extended well beyond the “small group of [libertarian] businessmen and radicals” of Wasserman’s simplistic and ideologically tinged portrayal.An American-Austrian Parallel:Of equally important note, Wasserman grossly misunderstands the historical transmission of Austrian thought to the United States. In his telling, this event flows from Hayek’s 1945 book The Road to Serfdom, and only gains traction after a subsequent generation of libertarian businessmen and other pejoratively-categorized “neoliberals” adopted it into a free market ideological canon. He makes no mention of the prior academic transmission of Carl Menger and Eugen von Boehm-Bawerk through their own German-trained American contemporaries at the turn of the 20th century. These so-called American-Austrians included Princeton’s Frank A. Fetter and Cornell’s Herbert Davenport, both of whom served terms as president of the American Economic Association. Fetter almost single-handedly introduced the Mengerian concept of subjective value to the American economic scene, and later laid the groundwork for a favorable reception of Mises’ work in the United States. Davenport largely framed the Austrian school’s reception in the United States with a series of important essays on its distinct contributions to economic thought. Of equal note, two of his graduate students played significant roles in subsequent American engagement with Austrian ideas. During his long tenure at Cornell, Davenport was the PhD adviser of Frank Knight of later “Chicago school” fame and, less known, F.A. “Baldy” Harper – the founder of IHS who laid the groundwork for the modern Austrian revival before his untimely death in 1973.Stunningly, Wasserman seems to be completely unaware that this parallel transmission of the original Austrian school to the United States even occurred. Rather, he views the modern Austrian school in strictly ideological terms that often approach caricature levels. This includes asserting a superficial free market idealism that its modern academic practitioners generally do not espouse, yet in doing so Wasserman also betrays that he does not actually understand the tenets of his subject matter. Modern Austrians are not skeptical of government economic interventions because they violate some sacred laissez-faire ideological precept, and they do not gravitate towards classical liberalism from a belief that markets can do no wrong. Rather it is the Austrian concept of subjective value that makes its practitioners deeply skeptical of the efficacy of economic planning. An Austrian predilection for classical liberalism is not the cause of this belief, but is rather its commonly derived consequence.Interestingly enough, Davenport’s student Harper explained as much when addressing this question in his own survey of the Austrian school, penned in 1966:“Though some contend that economics is completely and permanently separate from the concerns of political and philosophical matters, most of the persons of the Austrian School of economic thought have been of the classical liberal position. There have been variations, of course, in detail; and the classical liberal position has also been upheld by persons of widely different economic views. But in the main there has seemed to be a close relationship between the two.The reason for this is doubtless due to the fact that when one accepts the views of the Austrian School, as to subjective value and all this entails, he sees a deeper meaning in individual rights and the concerns of private property. He sees how one person cannot accept the responsibility of making another person’s decisions for him; he can only make decisions in his own right under abandonment by the other person of his rights.”Wasserman would do himself well to attempt a more charitable understanding of this position as well as the rich historical literature on the subject of the modern Austrian tradition before proceeding to more ambitious projects on this subject.

  • Originally published 07/03/2014

    The Power of the Powerless

    The Power of the Powerless was written in the wake of the "Prague Spring" (1968) during which Czechoslovakia liberalized freedom of speech and freedom of travel. The Soviet Union responded with brutal force that crushed the flicker of liberty. Havel was targeted for his prominent role in the reach for Czech independence. Arrested and imprisoned, he achieved an epiphany: the most powerful weapon against guns was the truth. The Power of the Powerless was a blistering attack on the communist regime. It was also a call for individuals to understand their own power not merely when they dissent but also when they comply with a system that is a lie.

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