Monday, April 14, 2014

Guest Post: Filling-In the Gaps

            Lorraine Rudowski has worn a number of hats throughout her life: sister, daughter, mother, nurse, wife, professor and grandmother.  This woman, my grandmother, taught me everything I needed to know in life.  Everything from when to keep my mouth shut to how to tell someone, only when necessary of course, to “fuck off” politely.  She is a woman of integrity and has more drive than anyone I have ever met.  I decided to interview my grandmother because I knew that she had a variety of experiences in her lifetime, especially being the wife of a man in the Foreign Service and traveling for much of her adult life.  Due to her recent development of Alzheimer’s disease my family asked me if “I really thought she was the right person to interview.”  To this I responded with a wholehearted yes.  The interview was a little rockier than I had hoped and some of her information (dates, locations, etc.) was shaky but my grandmother, as she has always done, gave me her best.
            She was born in 1929 and raised in New Bedford, Massachusetts.  She grew up with her mother, father and two sisters.  When asking my first couple of questions about gender expectations in the household she told me that she was expected to follow the rules, all the rules, there were no exceptions.  Because there were no boys in her family I asked her about being a girl in her community, and what that meant at that time.  She told me that she and the other girls received a lot of respect from the boys in her area, not like today where you see all this hoopla about harassment and such.  I asked her about her first job, and whether she was paid or not.  She explained that she had a wonderful singing voice (in the most modest way one can say that about themselves) and that because of this she had a radio show on Sunday evenings where she would sing with another young man.  She was paid minimal for this work but she believes that was a product of the times and not because she was a woman.  After she graduated from high school she moved to Connecticut to live with her aunt and uncle, she was 18 at the time.  She started working at a bank and was paid for the work she did there.  I asked if there were men working at this bank as well, trying to get a feel for whether or not this was a typical job for a woman to do, but she informed me that there were in fact men working there as well. 
            When I brought up the issue of gender bias in the work place she told me that she did not experience any of that, she said the environment in which she worked was pleasant.  So I followed that with a question asking her if she believed there is a difference in being a woman in the workforce today as opposed to when she was working.  She explained that she believed there was definitely a bigger difference for women today and that she thinks men in this time period are more aware that women are fully capable of replacing them at work, this she stated “is not a happy feeling I’m sure.”  My grandmother continued to say that some women are probably content with the under representation of their gender in the workforce, however there are definitely women who are very aware of it and very unhappy about it.
            The next couple of questions I asked were about her family life, for example when she got married.  My grandmother was married at the age of 18.  I asked her why she chose to get married that young in which she responded that my grandfather’s mother was very intent on them being together.  She told me “she [my grandfather’s mother] really picked me out, in fact I was living with my aunt and she said you are to come and live with me.”  She had her first child at the age of 19; I quickly asked her if having children this early was something women did during that time.  I say quickly because my grandmother has a tendency to go on a completely different tangent when talking about her children, this I know from asking questions about her life prior to this interview.  She told me yes, that women typically had children at a young age because they didn’t normally attend college like they do today.  She told me that she had gone to college for a small period of time in Hartford, Connecticut and that even though a lot of her classmates were men, it was a coeducational school so there were also women, but a limited number.
            I wanted to know if she raised her children with gender expectations in mind.  Her response was pretty straightforward, “you always do that, you expect boys to be stronger and more willing to help, and you expect girls to follow the line of the mother and help you around the house and in schooling, you expected her to look for female potential for a job in other words you wouldn’t pick up a hammer or shovel.”  This was interesting to hear though, because of what I know about the childhood of my aunts and uncles prior to this interview.  She may have thought she was raising her children with gender expectations but because my grandfather was normally at work or traveling because of his job my uncles did help around the house.  My uncles have told me many times before that they all know how to sew. This is because when they were living in Africa, shopping malls weren’t really at their disposal so they had to sew their own clothes.  My mom and aunt, the only girls in the five children my grandmother had, didn’t really do any heavy lifting, so maybe that is what she was referring to, but the boys definitely took part in chores on both ends of the gender spectrum.
            I wanted to know what it was like for her during World War II and Vietnam.  She told me that her personal experience during WWII as a woman was not really any different because of her gender.  However, with Vietnam, she did feel that being a woman contributed to some of the things she dealt with.  A major aspect of this was being married to a man in the army.  She said that her and the other wives always had a feeling that their husband would be called next.  I’m sure the men also had the same feelings but it was the women who would be home with the children while their life partner was somewhere in a war zone.  She did mention that because my grandfather was older at this time he was not involved in any combat but was called to go after the war.  When I asked her about being a woman during the civil rights movement she at first told me that she wasn’t in the same area as that was going on, that she was in Washington (one of the shakier parts of the interview).   She followed this, however, by saying “it was difficult for them [the women] to accept it.  Number one they wanted it [civil rights] but how to work it in responsibility with men was very difficult for women at that period of time.  Some of them [the women] were extremely arrogant and that made it difficult for them and some of them were extremely, not weak, but not wanting to stand up and say look I’m a woman, I can do what you do, a lot of women that did that didn’t get a good response from it.”
            Towards the end of the interview I started to notice that she was getting a little bit tired and wanted to try and wrap it up and ask her about her thoughts of younger women today.  My grandmother believes that younger women today have a much better opportunity than they did at her age.  She noted that this is especially true with continuing on in school, that didn’t really happen in her time.  When I asked her about the difference in expectations she said that women in her time were expected to do the cooking and the cleaning and the rearing of the children, as opposed to today, where women are expected to find jobs and get babysitters.  I asked her what she thought about the hopes and dreams of women today and she said that we should try and immerse ourselves in politics and change what we want to be changed.  Confused, I asked her if she thought all the younger women of today have these hopes and dreams and she said no, so I went on to ask if she believed that was a bad thing.  This is where the interview ended, her answer to my last question was “no, I don’t think it’s a bad thing, I think people with special attitudes and [people] that haven’t been raised in that way [to want to get involved] then they wouldn’t be looking at that [getting into politics] but you can’t stand still…your generation, you’re not supposed to stand still.”

            The interview overall went better than I had expected.  I wish my grandmother would have gone deeper into her life a little bit more, but I made the decision not to push too hard.  I believe that in her younger years my grandmother wasn’t really aware of how gender differences play such a large role in society, but I think she realizes it more now.  I think she believes that she raised her children with gender expectations but at the same time didn’t realize that she was also pushing the boundaries with them.  In the end, I was incredibly glad that I got to interview my grandmother on this topic because her answers were definitely different than I would have expected.  I expected more feminist answers than the ones she provided because that is how I have pictured her, but I think that is important.  Like the Ted Talk we watched on having one story of people.  You may think one way about a person but after getting to know them in a different way, such as interviewing, you get to witness a whole other side.  
- Tayler D'Alelio

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Fall 2014 Women's Studies Courses

ARTH 431: Contemporary Women in Art  2:00 - 3:15 TR Porterfield Hall 208 Roann Barris

CRJU 365: Diversity Issues in Criminal Justice 11:00-12:15 TR Waldron Hall 200 Bakhitah B. Abdul-Ra'uf
CRJU 365: Diversity Issues in Criminal Justice 12:30-1:45  TR Waldron Hall 200 Bakhitah B. Abdul-Ra'uf 
CRJU 365: Diversity Issues in Criminal Justice  3:30-4:45  TR Whitt Hall 124       Bakhitah B. Abdul-Ra'uf
CRJU 365: Diversity Issues in Criminal Justice  6:00-9:00  W  TBA                     Lori A. Elis

ENGL 453: The Female Literary Tradition 11:00 - 12:15 TR Stuart Hall B01  Renee A. Dickinson 

ENGL 470: Rachel Carson 1:00 - 1:50 MWF Russell Hall 349 Laura Vernon 

HLTH 325. Diversity of Health in U. S.  9:00 - 9:50 MWF Peters Hall B160 Melissa L. Grim 

HUMD 300. Birth through Adolescence. 9:30 - 10:45   TR Peters Hall C116 Wendy L. Eckenrod-Green 
HUMD 300. Birth through Adolescence.    5:00 - 8:00    M Peters Hall B160 TBA
HUMD 300. Birth through Adolescence. 11:00 - 12:15 TR Peters Hall C116 Wendy L. Eckenrod-Green 
HUMD 300. Birth through Adolescence.  2:00 - 3:15    TR Peters Hall C116 Wendy L. Eckenrod-Green 
HUMD 300. Birth through Adolescence.  1:00 - 4:00    W Peters Hall C116 TBA
HUMD 300. Birth through Adolescence.  1:00 - 4:00    M Peters Hall C116 TBA
HUMD 300. Birth through Adolescence.    5:00 - 8:00   W Peters Hall C136 TBA

NUTR 316. Nutrition in the Life Cycle I: Maternal and Child 11:00 - 12:15 MW Whitt Hall 005 Jyotsna Sharman

PSYC 230. Lifespan Developmental Psychology. 3:00 - 3:50 MWF Russell Hall 007 Emily B. Dove
PSYC 230. Lifespan Developmental Psychology. 2:00 - 2:50 MWF Russell Hall 007 Emily B. Dove
PSYC 230. Lifespan Developmental Psychology. 6:00 - 9:00 R Russell Hall 007 Jason D. Watson
PSYC 230. Lifespan Developmental Psychology. 8:00 - 9:15 TR Russell Hall 033 Jonathan D. Renz

PSYC 250. Psychology of Diversity. 11:00 - 12:15 TR Waldron Hall 226 Valerie S. Leake

PSYC 343. Social Psychology. 12:30 - 1:45 TR Reed Hall 201 TBA
PSYC 343. Social Psychology. 4:00 - 5:15 MW Russell Hall 007 Jessica L. Doll
PSYC 343. Social Psychology. 3:30 - 4:45 TR Russell Hall 033 Jessica L. Doll

PSYC 391. Psychology of Women. 8:00 - 9:15 TR Cook Hall 112 Hilary M. Lips

SOCY 250. Social Inequality. 1:00 - 1:50 MWF Waldron College Hall 200 Elizabeth C. Lyman 
SOCY 250. Social Inequality. 2:00 - 2:50 MWF Waldron College Hall 200 Elizabeth C. Lyman

SOCY 331. Race and Ethnic Relations. 2:00 - 3:15 TR Davis Hall 212 Carla Corroto

SOCY 389. Sociology of the Family. 3:30 - 4:45 TR Waldron College Hall 200 Lawrence M. Eppard

WMST 101. Women in the World. 10:00 - 10:50 MWF Young Hall 311 Michele D. Ren
WMST 101. Women in the World. 11:00 - 11:50 MWF Young Hall 311 Michele D. Ren
WMST 101. Women in the World.  9:30 - 10:45 TR Young Hall 311 Dana S. Cochran 
WMST 101. Women in the World. 11:00 - 12:15 TR Young Hall 311 Dana S. Cochran

WMST 400. Senior Portfolio: 1:00 - 1:50 M TBA Moira P. Baker

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Guest Post: Inez Haynes Gillmore's *Angel Island*

What could be a more striking symbol for the loss of freedom than the snip of scissors removing one's beloved wings? Inez Haynes Gillmore's novel Angel Island, published in 1914 at the height of the women’s suffrage movement, is the story of five shipwrecked men meeting five winged women and the power struggle that ensues between the two genders. The women may lose their freedom when the men take their powerful wings, but in the end the women's determination leads them to regain control over the lives of their children.  Gillmore explores the general misconceptions of women based on their socially constructed roles in society, how they were considered the inferior gender, and their struggle to achieve equality.

Throughout the novel, the women are stereotyped by the men. From the beginning, the men have broad generalizations as to what role women play in their society and their limitations. In order to capture the women, the men rely on appealing to the women's vanity using “trunks … full of women's clothes,” they entice the women with mirrors (46). One of the women, Lulu,  was reduced to tears when she accidentally broke her mirror and was no longer able to see her reflection.

Lulu’s breakdown over the mirror is further proof of the idea that women are inferior to men, a constant theme throughout the book. An example of this theme is when Julia almost falls from the sky; Billy is frightened and states: “Women don't know what's best for them. We do. Unguided, they take the awful risks of their awful ignorance. Moreover, they are the conservative sex. They have no conscious initiative… I don't think they're competent to take care of themselves. I think it's our duty to take care of them” (41). From Billy’s perspective, he was acting in the best interests of the women and his acquiescing to cutting their wings seems to be out of concern for their safety.

By the end of the novel, the women have almost become accustomed to the loss of their own wings.  But, once their children's freedom is threatened they band together to fight for the right to fly. Julia says, “we have decided among ourselves that we will not permit you to cut Angela's wings … rather than have you do that, we will leave you, taking our children with us" (95). The prospect of seeing their daughters go through the same pain they experienced at the hands of their husbands is too painful to even consider for these wingless mothers. It is the teamwork that this threat inspires that allows the women to assert control over their own lives and overpower the desires of the men. Gillmore makes the point that in order to achieve equality within society, women must work together.

Through the themes in the book, Gillmore examines the misunderstandings between the men and women about their respective roles in society. The men think of the women as silly, vain creatures, susceptible to any trap they may devise and in need of protection from their own natures. However, the women have the final word when they work together to rebel and show the men how important their role in society really is. Angel Island shows the reader both the challenges that Suffragists faced when fighting against the misconceptions of men and the strength that women have when they fight as one.

- Written (as a class) by students in ENGL 203-01, Summer 2009

Monday, March 3, 2014

Summer 2014 Women's Studies Courses

Requirements for the Minor in Women's Studies are available here.  

Dept.        #      Sect.  Course title                       Days        Times                 Instructor
PSYC     343     01    Social Psychology             MTWRF 11:00-01:45       Jessica L. Doll
PSYC     393     01    Psych of Human Sexuality MTWRF  08:00 -10:45     Tracy J. Cohn

Summer I
Dept.        #      Sect.  Course title                       Days        Times                 Instructor
ENGL     470     01    Lydia Maria Child            MTWR     11:00 -01:15     Michele D. Ren

HUMD     300     01   Birth - Adolescence       TWR         05:00 -08:00     Glenna S. Gustafson

SOCY     250     01    Social Inequality             TBA          ONLINE           Lawrence M. Eppard

Summer II
Dept.        #      Sect.  Course title                       Days        Times                 Instructor
CRJU     365     01    Diversity Issues in CRJU  MTWR     11:00 -01:15      Bakhitah B. Abdul-Ra'uf

PSYC     230     01    Lifespan Developmental   TBA          ONLINE           Jenessa C. Steele

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Guest Post: "Rape Culture Set to a Melody"

Marshall University defines rape culture as “an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture.” This term is very broad and can be used to describe many sexist issues taking place in our country.  From rape victims being at fault to songs suggesting women “want it” and even when we teach women to avoid getting raped, but men are not taught what “no” means.  These examples are all prominent in first-world cultures.

Music is unavoidable, especially pop songs that reach Top 40 Billboard chart status. The presence of rape culture in popular music is horrifying.  One of the biggest hits this year was a song by Robin Thicke, entitled “Blurred Lines.”  The song title itself sounds like it could be an article discussing the blurred lines of what is and is not considered rape.  There is one line that Thicke repeats in the song eighteen times. He says over and over again to a girl he feels attracted to, “I know you want it,” “it” being implied as sexual intercourse with the artist. Does this woman not get an opinion? Is Robin Thicke assuming that because she is drinking at the club in a fun dress that she is looking for sexual intercourse with someone?

Another song that glorifies our rape culture is one sung by the band The Wanted titled “Glad You Came.” There are lyrics in it that are more startling than Thicke's entire song.  “I decided you look well on me” is a lyric that as a feminist I find absolutely horrifying in many ways. The line itself puts a woman in her place as being the submissive one and the male is the dominant figure who makes the decisions, decisions such as if he would allow her to have sex with him. The song is more upsetting as it goes on with lyrics such as “let's go somewhere no one else can see” and the whole entire chorus that is repeated says, “Now I'll take you by the hand, hand you another drink, drink it if you can.”  This whole song is rape culture set to a melody.  These songs are being played on repeat all around the world, on the radio, in commercials, at parties, everywhere.  They are only feeding into society's rape culture in a way that works against females.

The problem with these songs and other influences from media and entertainment is the effect it has on both males and females.  As proven in the Movie Dreamworlds 3: Desire, Sex, & Power in Music Video, many music videos and songs, especially pop and rap songs, showcase females in a not so positive light.  Many times directors have almost naked women draped over men or wait eagerly for their man to return from wherever he may be.  These portray women as submissive and weak and males' power is based on how many women are surrounding him, according to music videos.  This gives the wrong idea to males of what shows their success and what roles and appearance women should have.

Rape culture is a feminist issue that is growing like a weed.  More and more women are being sexually assaulted, most of them college-aged, and with the growing acceptance of sexist lyrics, it is becoming normalized.  In a time period with so much social conflict, many of it based in equal rights, changing the way we think and speak can get pushed into the shadows.  But this is the generation that can change and end rape-culture.  This is the generation that if we came together, we could end sexism in media and journalism. As a feminist I want to unite my peers and help them make rape culture a thing of the past.

- Caitlin Johnson

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Spring 2014 WMST Classes

COMS 457: Diversity in Communication
9:30 am - 10:45 TR Lisa E. Baker

CRJU 365 : Diversity Issues in the Criminal Justice System
11:00 am - 12:15 TR Bakhitah B. Abdul-Ra'uf
12:30 pm - 1:45 TR Bakhitah B. Abdul-Ra'uf
6:00 pm - 9:00 M Ginger L. Williams

ENGL 470: Jane Austen
12:30 pm - 1:45 TR Kim D. Gainer

HLTH 453: Human Sexuality
9:30 am - 10:45 TR Melissa L. Grim
11:00 am - 12:15 TR Melissa L. Grim

HUMD 300. Human Growth and Development: Birth through Adolescence
9:30 am - 10:45 TR Wendy L. Eckenrod-Green
5:00 pm - 8:00 M TBA
1:00 pm - 4:00 W TBA

PSYC 230. Lifespan Developmental Psychology
12:30 pm - 1:45 TR Jayne E. Bucy
2:00 pm - 3:15 TR Jayne E. Bucy
11:00 am - 11:50 MWF TBA
8:00 am - 9:15 TR TBA

PSYC 343. Social Psychology.
11:00 am - 12:15 TR TBA
8:00 am - 9:15 TR Jessica L. Doll
9:30 am - 10:45 TR Jessica L. Doll

PSYC 393. Psychology of Human Sexuality.
8:00 am - 9:15 TR Tracy J. Cohn

SOCY 250. Social Inequality.
10:00 am - 10:50 MWF Lawrence M. Eppard
2:00 pm - 2:50 MWF Lecture Lawrence M. Eppard

SOCY 326. Men and Women in Society.
3:00 pm - 3:50 MWF Joanna M. Hunter
2:00 pm - 3:15 TR Carla Corroto

SOCY 331. Race and Ethnic Relations.
6:00 pm - 9:00 T Kathryn K. Everard-Van Patten

WMST 101: Intro to Women's Studies
10:00 am - 10:50 MWF Michele Ren
11:00 am - 11:50 MWF Michele Ren
9:30 am-10:45 TR Dana Cochran
11:00 am - 12:15 TR Dana Cochran

WMST 400: Senior Portfolio
1 credit hour. Time & Space TBA. Mary Ferrari

For more info about the minor in Women's Studies at RU, please see our webpage.