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Archive for the ‘Pop Culture’ Category

Bad Feminist

Here’s a teaser of my review of Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist for Women in Higher Education. In the review essay, I describe my own ambivalence about the term “feminism” and my experiences being a feminist in academia. (Note to self: Some people are jerks.) This book is fabulous, and I would argue that what higher ed needs is more bad feminists.

I bought into the vision of feminism that its detractors portray: strident, unyielding and unwelcoming. I still believed in gender equality, equal pay, reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy. In practice, I was a feminist, but the word tripped me up. I found myself uttering, “I’m not a feminist, but …” in conversations.

Graduate school clarified the social need for feminism as well as my personal need, but the word proved to be problematic.  I noted the way male colleagues acted toward women who proclaimed their feminism with sighs, eye rolls, guffaws, and snorts. I observed how professors assumed feminist scholars were too subjective and not rigorous enough.

The derision and hostility that feminism engendered even inside the academy gave me pause. If feminism couldn’t find a home in academia, where would it be accepted? (I found pockets of safe space.) My feminism became stealthy and quiet, even as I studied and taught gender theory. I was happy with my background feminism. I knew what I stood for. Who cared if I labeled myself a feminist or not?

At my previous university, a senior male colleague pulled me into his office to explain that he was a better feminist than I was. This was not a random encounter. I was invited to participate in a methods and theory group, and he was not. He wanted me to know that I was only a token.

The group was mostly men, so he reasoned that they needed women. This could be the only possible reason that I was invited. He shamed me for my acceptance of the invitation. His feminism would not allow him to participate in such a group because of their gender politics. Thus, he was a better feminist, and I was a bad one. (more…)

“just like dust we settle in this town”

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, we get bored and then get married…

Kacey Musgraves’s “Merry Go  ‘Round” lingers with me. I find myself humming this song in my office and singing it my car. Partially, it is her voice, but mostly, it is the haunting lyrics of the song that tap into my memories of life in a small Florida town, particularly the weight of expectations and desire. It is evocative of things that I remember and choose not to, of the desire to get away and to stay, of the choices we make and those we don’t, and of the possibilities we hope for and the possibilities that prove elusive. It feels at once like opportunity and expectation. It makes me nostalgic for the place where I grew up while also recognizing this history of that town. People remain living and dead, who I love and cherish, but my nostalgia appears tempered by ambivalence too. Expectations, possibility, and disappointment. The song chases me and forces me to realistically remember. Home is at once comforting and fraught, a reminder who we were, who we are, and who we might be. And these lyrics make me yearn for a return in spite of their gritty realism. They make me imagine a different life with different choices. A disquieting comfort settles over me as I sing along and remember the place and people who helped make me.


Revising, revising, revising

Ominous, isn’t it?

Revisions are keeping me very busy these days, so the posting has been few and far between. My sincere apologies for my dastardly neglect. I could promise to be more faithful to this little blog, but why make promises that I know will fall apart when the fall semester starts anyway.

I sent off one lovingly revised article on evidence and the study of American religions, and now, all of my attention is on a survey of the scholarship of apocalypticism. Survey pieces, how incredibly time consuming and maybe just a bit fun. The fascination with doomsday still fascinates me, which is not really surprising at all, as does the constant psychologizing that accompanies news media accounts and some scholarship. So, while I revise, enjoy a musical number inspired by my current revisions:

Please note that the date on screen at the beginning of the video is December 21, 2012, the supposed (and debunked) time that the Mayans will end us all. Remember Ms. Spears’ wisdom: “Keep on dancing till the world ends.”