The “confidence gap,” the one women are supposed to learn to close, often by emulating men, will never close until children learn who these people, and others like them, were and what they did. This is just the short, obvious list.
From top to bottom: Sarah Winnemucca, Mary Wollstencraft, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, The Grimke Sisters
I speak regularly on the topic of the role of gender in culture, women’s rights and free speech. During the past few months, every time I’ve had the opportunity, I’ve conducted a survey. I’ve asked large groups of people, including grad school, college and high school students currently enrolled, one or more of the following fairly basic questions: Do you know what A Vindication of the Rights of Women is? Do you know who the Grimke Sisters were? Were you taught the Declaration of Sentiments in school? Have you ever read Frederick Douglass on women’s subjugation? Do you know who Sojourner Truth was? And, did you know that women went on hunger strikes, where imprisoned and force-fed fighting to get the vote in the United States less than 100 years ago? Can you name any other Native American women, especially leaders, besides, maybe Sacagawea and Pocahontas, from American history?
I chose these questions and people because they participated in or were major, public historical events that captured widespread, popular imagination. Events that were prominently featured in the news of the day and often highly controversial. In every instance, often in elite institutions, no more than 10% of the room, usually far less, answered “yes” to one or more of these questions. In one instance, in a room of more than 100 high school students, I asked how many had learned about the Civil Rights movement. 100%. I asked how many had heard and laughed at rape jokes. 100%. I asked how many had learned about fights for women’s liberation in the United States. Maybe six hands went up, and two were teachers’.
Mary Wollstonecraft, an eighteenth-century English writer, philosopher, wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792 to refute the idea that women were naturally inferior and argue for educating girls as moral agents. It was a broad renunciation of sex-based double standards and was a critical part of the British Revolution Controversy, a series of influential debates about the French Revolution. The Declaration of Sentiments was a point-by-point rewriting of the Declaration of Independence. Who takes a complete rewriting of a foundational text to include the rights of half of the population of the country out of history lessons? It written primarily by feminist Elizabeth Stanton Cady for the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention of 1848, the first mass meeting of its kind in the United States. When President Obama mentioned it during his second inaugural speech there was a whole lot of head scratching. The Conference was attended by Frederick Douglass, who, despite a later break with Cady and other women’s rights activists, spoke passionately in defense of women’s suffrage and equality. The Declaration caused a major controversy and was called by one paper, “"the most shocking and unnatural event ever recorded in the history of womanity." Nineteen forty-eight was, by the way, 40 years after women of property in New Jersey lost the right to vote, a disenfranchisement that few people are aware of. The Grimke Sisters, Sarah and Angelina, were prominent abolitionists and feminists who publicly abjured their Southern slaveholding heritage. Their outspokenness scandalized the nation and challenged prohibitions on women speaking with authority. They were renounced by their adopted Quaker community for speaking about abolition and simultaneously harangued by abolitionists for fighting for women’s rights. Sojourner Truth was a powerful historic figure in America, a former slave and peripatetic, compelling advocate for racial and gender equality. Sojourner Truth is, I was compelled to point out in one place, not the name of an indie band. As to the vote, “we” did not “give” it to anyone, contrary to mainstream historical narratives about suffrage. Women of all hues faced social disgrace, imprisonment, force-feeding and death to secure it and the passage of the 19thamendment dramatically hinged on the efforts of one powerful mother to sway her son’s vote. While the questions I ask seem to center the fight for women’s rights on a black/white narrative there is no earlier fight for women’s right in the United States that that fought by Native American women against colonialism, the effects of which you can find every day in today’s newspapers. I know, however, that the reality of our education system would result in a 100% negative response to the question, “Did you learn about the English colonists from the perspective of the colonized?” Adding women’s concerns to that query is simply asking too much. The sexism and bias that women faced to overcome legal and social prohibitions were evident throughout the 20th century, for example in the civil rights movement, and continue today as a result of our systematically failing to educate generation after generation about women’s fights for equality. Without historical context, it is impossible to understand women’s contemporary struggles, especially those of women of color still living in gross disproportion with the legacy of colonialism, racism and patriarchy every day.
The reason “It Gets Better” caught on with politicians and celebrities is because it’s great PR and it requires absolutely NOTHING from them in the way of real action.
I just need that entire comment on my blog:
“It’s just a bullshit PR campaign, nothing more. Telling kids to put up with bullying until they leave school is not constructive advice. It’s cruel. School boards, school administrators, teachers, etc., need to have zero tolerance policy for bullying. It’s not uncommon for teachers to bully unpopular kids themselves. That’s where the changes need to be made. But that requires action, and it requires standing up to conservatives who fight anti-bullying campaigns tooth and nail (often claiming that bullying gay people is a christian right). The reason “It Gets Better” caught on with politicians and celebrities is because it’s great PR and it requires absolutely NOTHING from them in the way of real action.
It’s cruelty to tell a kid to tolerate bullying. And to whom is this campaign even directed? The fat gay kids that Savage makes fun of himself? It’s a campaign aimed at good looking white boys with great bodies and upper middle class families. Yes, THEY will do better once they start hitting the gay bars. But for most average looking kids from working class families, they will find a gay community that’s often very much like High School, with cliques and teasing and rejection. Gay kids need to get support from society, and the kids that need that most are the kids that Savage himself would mock and demonize; kids of color, working class and poor kids, fat kids, kids with acne, and kids who are otherwise marginalized in society AND in our community.
Even when you look at the videos on YouTube, you see politicians who’ve come out against marriage equality, sports teams that would never accept a gay person in their ranks, and celebrities who just want some good press. The gay kids who participate are often great looking white boys, who you know will be accepted in the gay community, and are already leading charmed lives. It’s a campaign for the people Savage likes…sexy white male teenagers with athletic bodies who will be greeted with open arms.
I’ll take the campaign seriously when Savage speaks out on behalf of marginalized gay kids, and criticizes the gay community for its racism and other prejudices. But he’s the biggest bigot and bully of the bunch, and that’s been proven from his many years as a “columnist.” I often couldn’t believe how conservative, prejudiced, and intolerant he was in those columns.”
Also trans people.
Dan Savage doesn’t care about the T, and he’s been actively, grossly cissexist on many distinct occasions.
Not to mention asexuals, women, lower-class people, etc.
Let’s face it kids, Dan Savage is the most hypocritical douchebag in the queer rights movement.
But yes I agree with everything that has been posted above.
don’t forget that he thinks bisexuals in general need to “make up their mind” and that male bisexuals are essentially unicorns
I once had an extended argument over when he was glitter-bombed because he’s a huge hypocritical transphobe. You can’t claim to be a trans* ally and then hurl transphobic slurs at your enemies. There’s no complicit-by-ignorance-and-stupidity argument to be made there - that’s just straight up transphobia. He is not an ‘activist.’ He is making a great living by essentially capitalizing on the intersection of his hegemonic identities and a burgeoning pinkwashed economy.
liking all the commentary here, and yeah that’s always bugged me about the “it gets better” campaign; it should be made better for kids NOW, not just waiting for them to get older and for their life to stop sucking
savage doesnt give a shit about #rape victims either oohh tss….
I think we all agree that dan savage is a stinky, puckered asshole.
Agree with everything mentioned, and adding more links
(I’ve probably doubled up on some links but w/e)
And this is just from like, the first page of google. I also wanna mention that he has a penchant to call other gay/lesbian people f*gs and d*kes which is never ok, unless the person has explicitly said that’s an ok term to use cor them.
Necessity isn’t the only mother of invention. Though it wasn’t always easy to get patents or the credit they deserved, women are responsible for many items we use today.
*PLEASE SIGNAL BOOST*
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Jessica Rey presents the history of the evolution of the swimsuit including the origins of its design, how it has changed overtime and the post-feminist association of the bikini symbolizing female empowerment. She refers to neuro-scientific studies revealing how male brains react to images of scantily clad women versus images of women deemed modest and what the implications of the results are for women in society.
(Note: As the OP, I disagree with Rey’s approach to putting the onus on women to alter ourselves rather than to alter the male perception of women – brain wiring has plenty to do with socialization and if we worked against the culture that fuels men’s objectification of women, women’s clothing choices would matter far less in terms of how men perceive us and determine how to interact with us).
^applauding above comment
"I will give you an example of how race affects my life. I live in a place called Alpine, New Jersey. Live in Alpine, New Jersey, right? My house costs millions of dollars. [some whistles and cheers from the audience] Don’t hate the player, hate the game. In my neighborhood, there are four black people. Hundreds of houses, four black people. Who are these black people? Well, there’s me, Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z and Eddie Murphy. Only black people in the whole neighborhood. So let’s break it down, let’s break it down: me, I’m a decent comedian. I’m a’ight. [applause] Mary J. Blige, one of the greatest R&B singers to ever walk the Earth. Jay-Z, one of the greatest rappers to ever live. Eddie Murphy, one of the funniest actors to ever, ever do it. Do you know what the white man who lives next door to me does for a living? He’s a fucking dentist! He ain’t the best dentist in the world…he ain’t going to the dental hall of fame…he don’t get plaques for getting rid of plaque. He’s just a yank-your-tooth-out dentist. See, the black man gotta fly to get to somethin’ the white man can walk to." Chris Rock