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Women’s Rhetorical Roles in the Antebellum Religious Press
In the formative years of the Methodist Church in the United States, women played significant roles as proselytizers, organizers, lay ministers, and majority members. Although women's participation helped the church to become the nation's largest denomination by the mid-nineteenth century, their official roles diminished during that time. In Beyond the Pulpit, Lisa Shaver examines Methodist periodicals as a rhetorical space to which women turned to find, and make, self-meaning. In 1818, Methodist Magazine first published "memoirs" that eulogized women as powerful witnesses for their faith on their deathbeds. As Shaver observes, it was only in death that a woman could achieve the status of minister. Another Methodist publication, the Christian Advocate, was America's largest circulated weekly by the mid-1830s. It featured the "Ladies' Department," a column that reinforced the canon of women as dutiful wives, mothers, and household managers. Here, the church also affirmed women in the important rhetorical and evangelical role of domestic preacher. Outside the "Ladies Department," women increasingly appeared in "little narratives" in which they were portrayed as models of piety and charity, benefactors, organizers, Sunday school administrators and teachers, missionaries, and ministers' assistants. These texts cast women into nondomestic roles that were institutionally sanctioned and widely disseminated. By 1841, the Ladies' Repository and Gatherings of the West was engaging women in discussions of religion, politics, education, science, and a variety of intellectual debates. As Shaver posits, by providing a forum for women writers and readers, the church gave them an official rhetorical space and the license to define their own roles and spheres of influence. As such, the periodicals of the Methodist church became an important public venue in which women's voices were heard and their identities explored.
Child Pornography on the Internet
Perhaps nothing evokes more universal disgust as child pornography. The world of its makers and users is so abhorrent that it is rarely discussed much less studied. Child pornographers have taken advantage of this and are successfully using the new electronic media to exchange their wares without detection or significant sanction. What are the implications of this threat for free speech and a free exchange of ideas on the internet? And how can we stop this illegal activity, which is so repugnant that even the most laissez-faire cyberlibertarians want it stamped out, if we know nothing about it?
Philip Jenkins takes a leap onto the lower tiers of electronic media in this first book on the business of child pornography online. He tells the story of how the advent of the internet caused this deviant subculture to become highly organized and go global. We learn how the trade which operates on clandestine websites from Budapest or Singapore to the U.S. is easy to glimpse yet difficult to eradicate. Jenkins details how the most sophisticated transactions are done through a proxy, a “false flag” address, rendering the host computer, and participants, virtually unidentifiable. And these sites exist for only a few minutes or hours allowing on-line child pornographers to stay one step ahead of the law. This is truly a globalized criminal network which knows no names or boundaries, and thus challenges both international and U.S. law.
Beyond Tolerance delves into the myths and realities of child pornography and the complex process to stamp out criminal activity over the web, including the timely debates over trade regulation, users' privacy, and individual rights. This sobering look and a criminal community contains lessons about human behavior and the law that none interested in media and the new technology can afford to ignore.
Harleys, Women, And American Society
Bike Lust roars straight into the world of women bikers and offers us a ride. In this adventure story that is also an insider’s study of an American subculture, Barbara Joans enters as a passenger on the back of a bike, but soon learns to ride her own. As an anthropologist she untangles the rules, rituals, and rites of passage of the biker culture. As a new member of that culture, she struggles to overcome fear, physical weakness, and a tendency to shoot her mouth off—a tendency that very nearly gets her killed.
Bike Lust travels a landscape of contradictions. Outlaws still chase freedom on the highway, but so do thousands of riders of all classes, races, and colors. Joans introduces us to the women who ride the rear—the biker chick, the calendar slut straddling the hot engine, the back-seat Betty at the latest rally, or the underage groupie at the local run. But she also gives us the first close look at women who ride in their own right, on their own bikes, as well as a new understanding of changing world of male bikers. These are ordinary women’s lives made extraordinary, adding a dimension of courage to the sport not experienced by males, risking life and limb for a glimpse of the very edge of existence. This community of riders exists as a primal tribute to humanity's lust for freedom.
Central, Eastern, and South Eastern Europe, 19th and 20th Centuries
Contains 150 expertly-researched biographical portraits (with pictures) of women and men who were active in, or part of, women's movements and feminisms in 22 countries in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. Thus it challenges the widely-held belief that there was no feminism in this part of Europe. The biographical portraits not only show that feminists existed here, but also that they were widespread and diverse, and included Romanian princesses, Serbian philosophers and peasants, Latvian and Slovakian novelists, Albanian teachers, Hungarian Catholic social workers, Austrian factory workers, Bulgarian feminist scientists and socialist feminists, Russian radicals and philanthropists, Turkish republican leftist political activists and nationalists, internationally recognized Greek feminist leaders, and so on-women, and some men, from all walks of life. Their stories together constitute a rich tapestry of feminist activity, rejecting the notion that either there was no feminism here, or that it was 'imported from the West.' Women in every society and in every generation protest gender injustice, and any suggestion to the contrary is a denial of the intelligence and human agency of countless women and men, including those featured in this Biographical Dictionary. The biographies not only provide a window onto the historical background of contemporary feminism (thus giving present-day women's movements the 'historical support' that they need and are entitled to), in some cases they demonstrate explicitly the historical continuities between feminisms past and present.
Rethinking Sexual Equality
There was a time when birth was treated as a natural process rather than a medical condition. Before 1800, women gave birth seated in birth chairs or on stools and were helped along by midwives. Then societal changes in attitudes toward women and the practice of medicine made birthing a province of the male-dominated medical profession.
In Birth Chairs, Midwives, and Medicine, Amanda Carson Banks examines the history of the birth chair and tells how this birthing device changed over time. Through photographs, artists' renditions of births, interviews, and texts from midwives and early obstetricians, she creates an evolutionary picture of birthing practices and highlights the radical redefinition of birth that has occurred in the last two centuries.
During the 1800s the change from a natural philosophy of birth to a medical one was partly a result of heightened understandings of anatomy and physiology. The medical profession was growing, and with it grew the awareness of the economic rewards of making delivery a specialized practice. In the background of the medical profession's rise was the prevailing perception of women as fragile invalids. Gradually, midwives and birth chairs were relegated to rural and isolated settings.
The popularity of birth chairs has seen a revival in the late twentieth century as the struggle between medical obstetrics and the alternative birth movement has grown. As Banks shows through her careful examination of the chairs themselves, these questions have been answered and reconsidered many times in human history. Using the artifacts from the home and medical office, Banks traces sweeping societal changes in the philosophy of how to bring life into the world.
Sex, Loyalty, and Revolution
The subject of bisexuality continues to divide the lesbian and gay community. At pride marches, in films such as Go Fish, at academic conferences, the role and status of bisexuals is hotly contested.
Within lesbian communities, formed to support lesbians in a patriarchal and heterosexist society, bisexual women are often perceived as a threat or as a political weakness. Bisexual women feel that they are regarded with suspicion and distrust, if not openly scorned. Drawing on her research with over 400 bisexual and lesbian women, surveying the treatment of bisexuality in the lesbian and gay press, and examining the recent growth of a self-consciously political bisexual movement, Paula Rust addresses a range of questions pertaining to the political and social relationships between lesbians and bisexual women.
By tracing the roots of the controversy over bisexuality among lesbians back to the early lesbian feminist debates of the 1970s, Rust argues that those debates created the circumstances in which bisexuality became an inevitable challenge to lesbian politics. She also traces it forward, predicting the future of sexual politics.
Depression and Gender in the Age of Self-Care
Winston Churchill called his own depression his "black dog." Black Dogs and Blue Words analyzes contemporary rhetoric surrounding depression and maintains that the techniques and language of depression marketing strategies target women and young girls, encoding a series of gendered messages about health and illness and encouraging self-diagnosis and self-medication. As depression and other forms of mental illness move from the medical-professional sphere to the consumer-public, the boundary at which distress becomes disease grows ever-more encompassing, the need for remediation and treatment increasingly warranted.
Escaping a Marriage, Writing a Life
Seventeen years after she married, Judith Strasser escaped her emotionally and physically abusive husband and sought a better way to live. In the process, Strasser rediscovered what she had suppressed through that long span of time: exceptional strength and a passion for writing.
Black Eye includes excerpts from a journal Strasser kept from 1985 to1986, the year she made the decision to leave her marriage, and present-day commentary on the journal passages and her family history. Strasser works like a detective investigating her own life, drawing clarity and power from journal passages, dreams, and memories that originally emerged from confusion and despair. With language that is both insightful and poetic, she reveals the psychological and social circumstances that led a "strong" woman, an intelligent and politically active feminist, to become an emotionally dependent, abused wife.
Not coincidentally, the same year that Strasser finally found the courage to leave her husband, she also reclaimed her creative voice. Newly empowered and energized by this enormous life change, Strasser began writing again after twenty-five silent years dominated by her mother’s illness and death, her own cancer, and her painful, fearful marriage. Black Eye is one of the fruits of this creative reawakening. Strasser’s writing is refreshingly honest and instantly engrossing. Not shy of wretchedness or beauty, Strasser’s story is bitterly personal, ultimately triumphant, and inspiring to all who deal with the adversity that is part of human life.