NWSA Journal

NWSA Journal
Volume 16, Number 2, Summer 2004

CONTENTS

Introduction

Special Features

    Messer-Davidow, Ellen, 1941-
    Bystydzienski, Jill M., 1949-
    Bloom, Leslie Rebecca.
    Rice, Penny J.
    Licona, Adela.
    Daly, Brenda O., 1941-
  • Women's Studies and Activism: An Interview with Ellen Messer-Davidow
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    Subject Headings:
    • Messer-Davidow, Ellen, 1941- -- Interviews.
    • Feminism and higher education -- United States.
    Abstract:
      In Disciplining Feminism (2002), Ellen Messer-Davidow argues that because women's studies has become too removed from activism, a reorientation is needed to achieve feminist goals. To explore this issue, the Women's Studies program at Iowa State University invited Messer-Davidow to speak on April 10, 2003. The following day, five members of the ISU feminist community interviewed Messer-Davidow (EM-D): Jill Bystydzienski (JB), Director of Women's Studies; Leslie Bloom (LB), Associate Director of Women's Studies and activist; Penny Rice (PR), Director of the Women's Center; and Adela Licona (AL), graduate student and Editorial/Research Assistant for the NWSA Journal. Brenda Daly (BD), Editor of the NWSA Journal, acted as facilitator.
    Pratt, Minnie Bruce.
  • Taking the Horizon Path: Keynote at the NWSA in New Orleans, LA, on June 19, 2003
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    Subject Headings:
    • United States -- Politics and government -- 2001-
    • Feminism -- United States.
    • Social conflict -- United States.
    Ahmed, Fauzia Erfan.
  • The Rise of the Bangladesh Garment Industry: Globalization, Women Workers, and Voice
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    Subject Headings:
    • Women clothing workers -- Bangladesh -- Social conditions.
    • Women clothing workers -- Bangladesh -- Economic conditions.
    • Clothing trade -- Bangladesh.
    Abstract:
      The Bangladesh garment industry is the largest employer of women in the formal manufacturing sector. The owners have been described, alternatively, as risk-taking entrepreneurs of a modernizing economy and as oppressors of women in exploitative sweatshops. This article analyzes the literature to explore the social, political, and economic contexts of this class and how women's earnings affect household gender dynamics within a framework of exit and voice. It draws on interviews of these garment factory workers to explore how work has different meanings for workers of different classes and how these perceptions influence gender roles and practices within the household. The conditions of the 1971 war, in fact, created the proto-capitalists, and the post-1975 economic policies of the military regime enabled them to become capitalists. The work has different meanings for women of different classes and these perceptions influence gender roles and practices within the household. Women from various class backgrounds are employed because they can be molded into compliant workers. The multi-class character of the workforce combined with the threat of layoffs prevents solidarity and makes unionization difficult. Some single women feel empowered by their earnings. Most married women are unable to leverage their income into greater decision-making power. But the income is essential for household welfare, and women need these jobs. Policy recommendations involve national and international actors; they emphasize crèches (day care centers), savings, and severance pay at the garment factory level as well as the institution of global living wages and working standards by the International Labour Organization.
    Keywords:
      Bangladesh garments / sweatshop / women workers and globalization / Bangladesh economic policy / women and unions

Articles

    Williams, Charmaine C.
  • Race (and Gender and Class) and Child Custody: Theorizing Intersections in Two Canadian Court Cases
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    Subject Headings:
    • Trials (Custody of children) -- Canada.
    • Custody of children -- Social aspects -- Canada.
    • Mass media and race relations -- Canada.
    Abstract:
      In the summer of 2001, the Canadian media devoted attention to two court cases that resulted in mothers losing custody of their children. Kimberly Van de Perre and Nadia Hama might have been overlooked if the presentation of their cases had not evoked discussion regarding the relevance of claims of racism in custody decisions. Analysis of the media narrative reveals that the narrow focus on race distorted perceptions of these family situations, and contributed to the marginalization of the two single mothers involved. This paper examines this process to explore how an analysis based on multiple identities, and simultaneous existence of oppression and privilege, may have led to different outcomes for these two families.
    Keywords:
      race / intersectionality / media / child custody / single mothers
    Yaszek, Lisa, 1969-
  • Stories "That Only a Mother" Could Write: Midcentury Peace Activism, Maternalist Politics, and Judith Merril's Early Fiction
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    Subject Headings:
    • Merril, Judith, 1923- -- Criticism and interpretation.
    • Motherhood in literature.
    • Nuclear warfare and literature.
    • Women and peace -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
    Abstract:
      This essay explores Judith Merril's early fiction in relation to the maternalist politics characteristic of midcentury women's peace activism. Dominant Cold War discourses encouraged American women to become "domestic patriots" by using their natural caretaking instincts to prepare their homes against the eventuality of nuclear war. Conversely, midcentury peace organizations posited that it was women's civic duty to protect their families by protesting against the militaristic social and moral orders attending the dawn of the atomic era. As science fiction became increasingly central to the American imagination in the 1950s, women writers turned to the genre as an ideal vehicle through which to express their dissent from the Cold War status quo. Premier among them was Judith Merril, whose passionate antiwar sensibilities led her to write science fiction that invoked the maternalist logic of midcentury peace activism by demonstrating how militaristic practices threaten to destroy the very families they are designed to protect. Additionally, Merril's stories extend the logic of her activist counterparts by imagining how women might connect with other caring workers—especially doctors and scientists—and create new communities that will protect future generations from the devastating legacy of the nuclear age.
    Keywords:
      Judith Merril / peace activism / maternalist politics / Cold War / nuclear war / science fiction
    Lenz, Brooke.
  • Postcolonial Fiction and the Outsider Within: Toward a Literary Practice of Feminist Standpoint Theory
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    Subject Headings:
    • Kincaid, Jamaica. Lucy.
    • Postcolonialism in literature.
    • Feminist literary criticism.
    • Feminist theory.
    Abstract:
      This article establishes an experimental methodology for the literary practice of feminist standpoint theory through analysis of Jamaica Kincaid's Lucy. It offers an outline of the processes by which a standpoint is achieved and reflects on larger questions of identity and authority. It argues that Lucy does in fact have a privileged standpoint as an "outsider within," and contends that Lucy's lack of an easily categorized identity allows for multiple standpoints that inform one another and offer a powerful understanding of her situation as a woman and postcolonial subject. Finally, this article questions the authority of the literary standpoint critic.
    Keywords:
      Standpoint theory/ postcolonial theory/ postcolonial literature/ hybridity/ feminist literary criticism
    Njambi, Wairimu Ngaruiya.
    Sprenkle, Melissa Putman.
  • Rethinking Masculinized Tools: Machetes, Women's Work, and Suburban Yard Maintenance
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    Subject Headings:
    • Machetes -- Social aspects.
    • Gardening -- Social aspects -- United States.
    • Suburban life -- Social aspects -- United States.
    Abstract:
      This paper examines masculinization and colonial ideologies that immediately come to surface at the intersection of "machete" (with its connotative associations) and the suburbs in the United States. By using the lens of feminist theory, we explore the contradictions in suburban home maintenance discourse (gardening discourse in particular) and present texts and images of women using and talking about the tools identified as masculine in Western industrialized contexts. In such examples, we observe that using machetes in the maintenance of suburban homes not only subverts unspoken rules about women and technology, but also reveals a gendering process that intersects with class and race/ethnicity, as well as those power relations that distinguish "third world" from "first world" environments. We argue that masculinized and colonial images associated with machetes renders invisible some women's work as well as their involvement in technology in the global economy. Stories in this paper emerged from an experience of one of the authors using a machete in an exclusive suburban home environment.
    Keywords:
      Colonial ideology/ masculinization/ feminist theory/ home maintenance/ cultural studies/ discourse
    Costello, Carrie Yang.
  • Changing Clothes: Gender Inequality and Professional Socialization
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    Subject Headings:
    • Professional socialization -- United States -- Sex differences.
    • Clothing and dress -- Social aspects -- United States.
    • Ethnicity -- United States.
    • Identity (Psychology)
    Abstract:
      To be successful in their chosen careers, professional students must internalize appropriate professional identities. In studying this process, I have found that students who are female and/or of color encounter greater difficulties because they frequently suffer from a problem I term identity dissonance. I engaged in intensive ethnographic and interview-based research at a law school and school of social work. In this paper, I describe how identity dissonance was evident in gendered and raced differences in wardrobe alterations among the professional students I observed.
    Keywords:
      Professional identities/ personal identities/ interview research/ internalization/ dissonance/ socialization/ demographic.
    Chilcoat, Michelle.
  • Brain Sex, Cyberpunk Cinema, Feminism, and the Dis/Location of Heterosexuality
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    Subject Headings:
    • Science fiction films -- History and criticism.
    • Sex role in motion pictures.
    • Brain -- Sex differences.
    • Feminist theory.
    Abstract:
      Cyberpunk cinema's fantasy of freeing the mind from the mortal body appears at odds with the conservatism of brain sex science seeking biological proof of why men and women should adhere to traditional gender roles. But an analysis of some of the genre's films shows that cyberpunk cinema is also conservative, particularly in its anxious reassertion of "obligatory heterosexuality." Cyberpunk cinema and brain sex intersect on conservative grounds out of anxiety over the shift from the industrial to the information age with its lure of disembodied experience. The potential for the dislocation of the body causes panic in brain sex studies and cyberpunk cinema, foreclosing innovative thought, despite their claims of forging new ground. By contrast, the groundbreaking research of feminists like Donna Haraway and Judith Butler offers new ways to think about bodies, minds, and knowledge precisely because it puts the location of sex and gender into question.
    Keywords:
      brain sex / cyberpunk / cyborg theory / feminist science / feminist theory / film / sex and gender studies

Reports

    Micham, Laura.
  • The Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture: Research, Ethics, and Activism in the Archives
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    Subject Headings:
    • Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture.
    Abstract:
      In November 2003, the Library's Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture celebrated the 15th anniversary of the establishment of a center for women's history and culture at Duke University by hosting a symposium that commemorated the 30th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. The 15th anniversary reception, which opened the symposium, provided an opportunity to celebrate the work of the Bingham Center and to honor many of the people who have been part of its history, including Ginny Daley, the center's first director, and Sallie Bingham.
    Salley, Karen L.
    Winkler, Barbara Scott.
    Celeen, Megan.
    Meck, Heidi.
  • Women's Studies in the Western United States
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    Subject Headings:
    • Women's studies -- West (U.S.)
    • Women's studies -- Curricula -- West (U.S.)
    Abstract:
      This paper is based on the 2002 survey of women's studies programs and departments located in the Western United States. Questionnaires were sent to 106 institutions; 38 responded. The study updates and provides a comparison with a previous survey conducted in 1988. The study concentrates on program structure, personnel, funding, and curriculum. One significant finding of the 2002 survey is the increase in the number of schools that employ women's studies directors or chairs in regularly salaried positions: 63 percent compared with 23 percent in the 1988 survey. The current study also documents the emergence of a core curriculum, compared to the "adisciplinarity" of course offerings in 1988. Multicultural and global courses are now a more significant part of the curriculum. Ongoing problems such as budgetary constraints, including funding for additional faculty lines, and problems with support by students and administration at some schools, are discussed. Recommendations include the importance of additional tenure-track faculty lines to program stability and curriculum while recognizing the difficulties of current budgetary insecurity at many schools.

Book Reviews

    Gilmore, Stephanie.
  • No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women, and: Tidal Wave: How Women Changed America at Century's End, and: Feminism in the Heartland (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Freedman, Estelle B., 1947- No turning back: the history of feminism and the future of women.
    • Evans, Sara M. (Sara Margaret), 1943- Tidal wave: how women changed America at century's end.
    • Ezekiel, Judith, 1956- Feminism in the heartland.
    • Feminism -- History.
    • Women -- United States -- History.
    Fuchs, Esther, 1953-
  • Gender in Jewish Antiquity: Biblical Texts, Rabbinic Interpretations, and Feminist Interventions
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    Subject Headings:
    • Zlotnick, Helena. Dinah's daughters: gender and Judaism from the Hebrew Bible to late antiquity.
    • Frymer-Kensky, Tikva Simone. Reading the women of the Bible: a new interpretation of their stories.
    • Baskin, Judith Reesa, 1950- Midrashic women: formations of the feminine in rabbinic literature.
    • Fonrobert, Charlotte Elisheva. Menstrual purity: rabbinic and Christian reconstructions of Biblical gender.
    • Baker, Cynthia M. Rebuilding the house of Israel: architectures of gender in Jewish antiquity.
    • Dinah (Biblical character)
    • Women in the Bible.
    Brandt, Carol B.
  • Teaching Science for Social Justice, and: Connecting Girls and Science: Constructivism, Feminism, and Science Education Reform (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Barton, Angela Calabrese. Teaching science for social justice.
    • Howes, Elaine V. Connecting girls and science: constructivism, feminism, and science education reform.
    • Science -- Study and teaching -- Social aspects -- United States -- Case studies.
    • Women in science.
    Mayberry, Maralee.
  • Connecting Girls and Science: Constructivism, Feminism, and Science Education Reform (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Howes, Elaine V. Connecting girls and science: constructivism, feminism, and science education reform.
    • Women in science.
    Zanish-Belcher, Tanya.
  • Self-Trust and Reproductive Autonomy (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • McLeod, Carolyn. Self-trust and reproductive autonomy.
    • Human reproductive technology -- Moral and ethical aspects.
    Valante, Mary A.
  • The Empress Theodora: Partner of Justinian, and: Women in Purple: Rulers of Medieval Byzantium (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Evans, J. A. S. (James Allan Stewart), 1931- Empress Theodora: partner of Justinian.
    • Herrin, Judith. Women in purple: rulers of Medieval Byzantium.
    • Theodora, Empress, consort of Justinian I, Emperor of the East, d. 548.
    • Irene, Empress of the East, 752?-803.
    Hobbs, June Hadden, 1948-
  • Divine Feminine: Theosophy and Feminism in England, and: Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Dixon, Joy, 1962- Divine feminine: theosophy and feminism in England.
    • Braude, Ann. Radical spirits: spiritualism and women's rights in nineteenth-century America.
    • Theosophical Society (Great Britain) -- History.
    • Women's rights and spiritualism -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
    Chandler, Karen.
  • Saints Sinners Survivors: Strong Black Women in African American Literature, and: The Freedom to Remember: Narrative, Slavery, and Gender in Contemporary Black Women's Fiction (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Harris-Lopez, Trudier. Saints sinners saviors: strong Black women in African American literature.
    • Mitchell, Angelyn, 1960- Freedom to remember: narrative, slavery, and gender in contemporary Black women's fiction.
    • American literature -- African American authors -- History and criticism.
    Ball, M. Charlene.
  • Myth and Fairy Tale in Contemporary Women's Fiction, and: Tracing Arachne's Web: Myth and Feminist Fiction (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Sellers, Susan. Myth and fairy tale in contemporary women's fiction.
    • Bloomberg, Kristin M. Mapel, 1969- Tracing Arachne's web: myth and feminist fiction.
    • English fiction -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
    • Feminist fiction, American -- History and criticism.
    Ryan, Barbara, 1942-
  • Damaged Identities, Narrative Repair, and: Women Escaping Violence: Empowerment through Narrative (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Nelson, Hilde Lindemann. Damaged identities, narrative repair.
    • Lawless, Elaine J. Women escaping violence: empowerment through narrative.
    • Ethics.
    • Abused women -- United States.
    Emin-Tunc, Tanfer.
  • Into Our Own Hands: The Women's Health Movement in the United States, 1969-1990 (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Morgen, Sandra. Into our own hands: the women's health movement in the United States, 1969-1990.
    • Women's health services -- United States.
    Armstrong, Mary A.
  • Wired to the World, Chained to the Home: Telework in Daily Life (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Gurstein, Penny. Wired to the world, chained to the home: telework in daily life.
    • Telecommuting.

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