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.’
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?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFwCBwpAFMA Millions of people have shared personal stories of sexual assault and harassment using the hashtag #MeToo. Tarana Burke the founder of the movement, wants to make sure marginalized voices aren’t lost in the conversation. Content Warning: Sexual Assault/Harassment
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.
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.…
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.
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.
Lang scholar-in-residence and leading public intellectual bell hooks discusses with long-time activist Gloria Steinem about how feminism encourages transgression and what it has done to resist male violence and domination.
https://youtu.be/Xuspy9vYMBA Leading public intellectual bell hooks engages in inspiring dialogue with Laverne Cox, critically acclaimed actress and the first trans woman of color to have a leading role on television. What are the politics of transgender women? What exactly does contemporary feminism look like? These questions inform their provocative conversation, part of bell hook’s week-long residency at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Ar. Watch the full conversation here.
Neuroethics is an emerging field that considers the interaction between neuroscience, behavioral biology, society, and ethics. Major questions of concern within neuroethics include: How do scientific discoveries impact society? How can scientific researchers more fully understand the ethical implications of their work? The intersection of feminist science studies with the field of Neuroethics produces new ways to ask these questions, considering, for example, not only how science impacts society, but how scientific research is shaped by cultural assumptions. Ultimately, students in this class will combine the critical thinking skills from both of these fields to answer the question: How can we all be responsible consumers and/or producers of neuroscientific knowledge? Visit the PDF version of Feminism, Sexuality, and Neuroethics to access the full syllabus.