Sunday, June 24, 2012

What's Happened to Me? Preparing to Teach Women's Studies

Yes, I'll be teaching "Introduction to Women's Studies" next semester, in addition to my classes in Children's Literature. The Women's Studies course will be the first class I've taught online, which, I understand from my colleagues, is a great deal of work, especially the first time around.

As I prepare to teach this course, I've been reading a great deal in the area of U.S. women's history, and about the status of modern women from the point of view of economics, American culture, politics, and sociology. I can tell you that my studies have deeply affected me.

I realize and have long been aware that as a woman who has experienced a great deal in four decades of adulthood and who has seen much, much more, that to maintain my sanity, I have had to do what the vast majority of women do, which is to ignore, look the other way, sweep under the rug, and turn the other cheek when it comes to dealing with all the ways this society so boldly discriminates against women and girls, is so blindly prejudiced against women, in the ways it refuses to protect women and girls from violence, and in all the ways it so determinedly stacks the deck against women and girls, most especially against women and girls who live in poverty. Have I used enough cliches this evening? The run-on sentences are marvelous as well. Guess I'll have to work on that later, gator.

Whew! Here are Some Books: In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution by Susan Brownmiller, Flat Broke with Children: Women in the Age of Welfare Reform by Sharon Hays, Nickel and Dimed:On Not Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich (a spellbinding, must-read, first-person study about women in poverty--the author went undercover, hardscrabble-style, and lived as a woman with zero money--don't miss this--it will change your life!), The Vagina Monologues (fun and enlightening) by Eve Ensler, Appetites: Why Women Want by Carol Knapp. 

Just today I was half listening to the tv news Ken was watching, which was discussing the appalling statistics of women who have been and are being raped, sexually assaulted, and sexually harrassed in the US military. Military brass have been completely ineffectual in controlling this problem.

And have you happened to catch an episode or two of the 26-year-old Lena Dunham's extraordinary HBO series Girls? (Also available on iTunes.) Thank you, Lena, for saying it exactly like it is for millions of young women. And thank you, HBO, for being bold enough to broadcast a program, written and produced by a very young woman, that runs counter to the way Hollywood and mainstream US Television Culture mistakenly portray American women. I salute you!  Bravo and Brava!

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