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Nancy Drew and the Syndication of White Savior Feminism

By Kirsten Ginzky

Relatable-yet-superhuman, Nancy Drew has been an enduring cultural icon, debuting in 1930 and starring in hundreds of books along with films, television series, and video games. When I was introduced to Nancy in 1998, I devoured every volume of the yellow-spined mystery series that I could get my hands on. The heroine is a spunky, prodigious girl detective who solves hundreds of cases, succeeding when lawmen cannot. Nancy is sarcastic, confident, and an ace at evading the many criminals who tail her powder blue Mustang convertible during high-speed chases. In the early 20th century, the Nancy Drew series was lauded as presenting “an amazing alternative to the career choice of secretary and milliner that other children’s books provided” (Paretsky, 1991, p. 9). The syndication of the ‘Nancy Drew’ archetype created a significant blueprint for modern American girl and womanhood – one that helped inspire a model of empowered womanhood that dominates 20th and 21st century American life with a Who’s Who of public figures including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonya Sotomayor, Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, Diane Sawyer, Laura Bush, Barbara Walters, Nancy Pelosi, and Sandra Day O’Connor (Murphy, 2009; Shipman & Rucci, 2009) citing her as an inspiration. Viewing Nancy with an intersectional lens complicates this narrative: aspirational, independent, but never rebellious, Nancy Drew is a thoroughly modern product, created through a fine-tuned capitalist production and distribution model. Her actions and beliefs reflect both traditional middle-class values and the expanding role of American youth and women in the wake of the Progressive Era. The books affirm WASP superiority and the original editions, revised in the 60s, are rife with racial stereotypes. A contemporary reader could easily dismiss Nancy Drew as an upper-middle-class ‘white savior.’

Hollywood Won’t Save Us: Instead, Let’s Build a Revitalized Radical Feminism

By Barbara Ransby | Truthout

With the rise of the #MeToo moment and the #TimesUp campaign, Hollywood has discovered activism, and with it, a new lexicon and fledgling new identity. This is potentially a blessing and a curse for those of us who have been fighting feminist and anti-racist battles long before “intersectionality” was uttered from the stage at the Oscars, long before activists formed a phalanx of silent sentinels to serve as props for celebrity performances. This scene was politically counterbalanced, by the way, with a celebratory tribute to war and militarism. But this is the world we live in. And like with every industry and institution, there are a handful of genuine change-seekers in Hollywood — people who have risked their careers and livelihoods to wage uphill battles for greater justice in the arts and media. And we have to give them the opportunity to be better allies going forward, in the spirit of Eslanda and Paul Robeson and others. How do we do this work, and dance this dance, with greater attention to the principles that ground us?

We should all be feminists | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg3umXU_qWc We teach girls that they can have ambition, but not too much … to be successful, but not too successful, or they’ll threaten men, says author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In this classic talk that started a worldwide conversation about feminism, Adichie asks that we begin to dream about and plan for a different, fairer world — of happier men and women who are truer to themselves.

Feminism and The State: Carceral Feminisms and Transformative Alternatives

Melanie Brazzell Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Summer Semester 2016 After the public reactions to the sexual violence in Köln on New Years, we have to ask ourselves a few hard questions: How can ‘good ideas’ like protecting survivors of violence go so very wrong by supporting racist policing and security regimes? What happens when feminism goes ‘mainstream’ and works together with the State? How do feminist politics come to collaborate in State violence against people of color, particularly trans and cis women? This course will look at the question of feminism’s relationship to the State through current discussions in the U.S. about feminist and anti-violence collaboration in the prison industrial complex, with comparisons to the German context. We’ll use sociological, philosophical, and activist approaches to explore this ‘carceral feminism’, as well as what might lie beyond it, answers we will seek in the prison abolition, community accountability, & transformative justice movements.…

“Thinking Black” Against the Carceral State: Angela Davis and Prisoner Defense Campaigns

By Dan Berger | Black Perspectives

The stirring directive sounded like the denouement of a legal thriller: “I am going to ask you, if you will, for the next few minutes to think Black with me—to BE black,” famed defense attorney Leo Branton instructed an all-white California jury at the outset of his closing statement. “Don’t worry. When the case is over, I am going to let you revert back to the safety of being what you are. You only have to be Black and think Black for the minutes that it will take for me to express to you what it means to be Black in this country.”

Having temporarily empaneled an all-Black jury, Branton then delivered a stirring indictment of antiblack racism, from the Middle Passage to the Fugitive Slave Law, Dred Scott decision, and Jim Crow. Hours into his speech, Branton “relieve[d]” the jury “of that responsibility” of Blackness. Then he read a poem celebrating Black love as a redemptive act. By the time he closed, several jurors had tears in their eyes. Three days later, on June, 4, 1972, Branton’s client was acquitted on all counts: Angela Yvonne Davis was free.

River of Resistance

By Cheryl Johnson-Odim

“Little by little the raindrops swell the river.” (African Proverb)

All over this country, and the world, women (and some male allies) marched on Saturday, January 21st, 2017. Each woman who marched was a rain drop in a river of resistance to an increasing turn by demagogic leaning world leaders toward policies that trample on human rights. For us in the United States those world leaders are Donald Trump and Mike Pence and their allies in the Republican led Congress: Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and others.

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