The title “Hip Hop Generation Feminist” may seem hard to grasp for some, but Dr. Treva Lindsey wears this title proudly. Dr. Lindsey’s PhD is in History, but she came to her current department—Women and Gender Studies—and her cultural role as a “Hip Hop Generation Feminist” by applying a historical perspective to the images she saw every day in pop culture. She is intrigued by images that continue to be reproduced in generations of pop culture and how they evolve in response to social changes.
Dr. Lindsey talks about the unique challenges faced by young black girls, particularly about the very limited range of public figures for them to draw influence from. However, with the Internet, Dr. Lindsey is excited about the possibility for black girls to begin putting forth their own content and creating a broader spectrum of images of black females.
Here, Dr. Lindsey talks about the struggle to escape the objectification of the female body without disengaging with sexuality completely. Not every sexual performance necessarily plays into objectification, but seeing a woman creating her own sexual narrative may be something that many viewers of hip hop artists are not yet comfortable with.
Dr. Lindsey tells us how her education as a historian has informed her work as a “Hip Hop Feminist." As a woman who grew up listening to and loving hip hop, Dr. Lindsey feels that because of her love for the genre, she is a necessary voice in its critique.
One of the important questions Dr. Lindsey asks of herself and her students is “What does a history of black female pleasure look like?” When considering this, she says we must acknowledge the history of objectification and misogyny that was part of slavery and segregation, but not deny these historical people their humanity by disregarding possible sites of pleasure.
Women in the eighteenth century weren’t any easier to pigeonhole than they are today. Dr. Looser discusses the ways that women writers represented different stances on feminism and women’s societal roles.
Dr. Looser is also a member of the CoMo Derby Dames, a local, non-profit, flat-track roller derby team, where she skates as Stone Cold Jane Austen. Dr. Looser talks about the bonds and strength of this incredible group of women, as well as her own beliefs about the feminism inherent in the sport.
Rangira Béa Gallimore’s second book, L’oeuvre romanesque de Calixthe Beyala: Le renouveau de l’écriture féminine en Afrique francophone sub-saharienne (1997), focuses on contemporary Francophone writer Calixthe Beyala. Whereas her first book subverts “the master’s language” by using the French of the slums (les bidonvilles) instead of classic French, her second book attempts to subvert patriarchy itself. Providing counterpart to male writers “who idealized the African woman as this beautiful symbol of the earth,” Beyala offers main characters who are forced into prostitution because of sexual abuse or poverty. “It’s very clear in her writing that she’s using the female body discourse. The body in writing is exposed, it is displayed,” explains Gallimore, and indeed Beyala’s tendency to address taboo subjects has created controversy. “It was very shocking for an African woman to write such things,” yet women’s bodies in Beyala’s novels stand as a “symbol of the violated earth, of the bad and the evil” that they have had to endure through their bodies. “You cannot deny the reality of Africa,” responds Beyala to her detractors.
As her first foray into comparative ethics, Welch recounts the origins of her book A Feminist Ethic of Risk (2000, 2nd edition): “I wrote it because one of the things I noticed, as a graduate student and then teaching at Harvard University, was how easily white middle-class people give up. At first people wouldn’t want to take a stand on an issue, whether apartheid or nuclear weapons, because they thought they didn’t know enough about it. Once they learned more about the issue, they were still unable to act, but now for a different reason—they thought the problem was too big to do anything about. I saw this as a phenomenon of cultured despair, being aware of large issues and arguing against the futility of partial efforts.” By contrast Welch learned from the work of the ethicist Katie Cannon about a type of “moral wisdom in the black women’s literary tradition,” an ethic of resisting over the long-haul in spite of seemingly overwhelming oppression, and the “confluence of spirituality and aesthetics” that sustained their activism over time.
This project focused on the selling of motherhood, specifically through technological innovations and the medicalization of women, to American and British housewives after the Second World War and examined how the politics of mothering after the war still resonate with women today. My research found that housewives in both America and Britain were remarkably similar in the way they looked at housework as well as how they reacted to the culture of the time. Today, many women in both countries are also beginning to question the feminist goal of “having it all,” yearning to become the typical housewives whom the media portrayed in the 1950s.