For twenty years, the belief that the sex provision was a monkey wrench that unintentionally became part of the machine was the conventional wisdom about Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964]. But when scholars—including Michael Gold, Carl Brauer, Cynthia Deitch, Jo Freeman, and Robert Bird—dug into the archives they not only learned that the real story of the sex amendment was quite different; they essentially uncovered an alternative history of women’s rights.
—The Sex Amendment
by Louis Menand tells the story of "how women got in on the Civil Rights Act." It focuses especially on the role of the National Women's Party, led by septuagenarian suffragette Alice Paul. Here is a long interview with her
which focuses on her activist youth.
If “The Marriage Plot,” by Jeffrey Eugenides, had been written by a woman yet still had the same title and wedding ring on its cover, would it have received a great deal of serious literary attention? Or would this novel (which I loved) have been relegated to “Women’s Fiction,” that close-quartered lower shelf where books emphasizing relationships and the interior lives of women are often relegated? Certainly “The Marriage Plot,” Eugenides’s first novel since his Pulitzer Prize-winning “Middlesex,” was poised to receive tremendous literary interest regardless of subject matter, but the presence of a female protagonist, the gracefulness, the sometimes nostalgic tone and the relationship-heavy nature of the book only highlight the fact that many first-rate books by women and about women’s lives never find a way to escape “Women’s Fiction” and make the leap onto the upper shelf where certain books, most of them written by men (and, yes, some women — more about them later), are prominently displayed and admired.
So begins The Second Shelf: On the Rules of Literary Fiction for Men and Women
, an essay in the New York Times by novelist Meg Wolitzer. She was interviewed about her essay in the NYT Book Review podcast
(mp3 link, interview starts at about 18:30). Wolitzer references the classic 1998 essay by Francine Prose, Scent of a woman's ink: Are women writers really inferior?
, and further back in time you find Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own
, which, as literary critic Ruth Franklin notes
, still sounds fresh today.
is a videoblog by Anita Sarkeesian
that critiques pop-culture from the perspective of a feminist geek. She explains her approach in this video
. Among the topics she's covered in her videos
, the boy's club veneer of file sharing sites
and gendered toy ads
. Sarkeesian has recently started to make a series of videos for Bitch Magazine called Tropes vs. Women, about "the reoccurring themes and representations of women in Hollywood films and TV shows." So far there are four episodes: The Manic Pixie Dream Girl
, Women in Refrigerators
, The Smurfette Principle
and The Evil Demon Seductress
has a three part YouTube series about "a dumpy women's studies professor [who] transforms herself into a ghetto fabulous rap star to convince people to care about feminism. When she's finished rapping...they still don't care." Parts 1