Archive | April, 2011

Benjamin Franklin’s Sister

24 Apr

The New York Times tells a short but powerful story about Benjamin Franklin’s sister, Jane Mecom.  It is a story that could probably be told of thousands of other women, too, but they didn’t have famous brothers and have been lost to history as a result:

Franklin, who’s on the $100 bill, was the youngest of 10 sons. Nowhere on any legal tender is his sister Jane, the youngest of seven daughters; she never traveled the way to wealth. He was born in 1706, she in 1712. Their father was a Boston candle-maker, scraping by. Massachusetts’ Poor Law required teaching boys to write; the mandate for girls ended at reading. Benny went to school for just two years; Jenny never went at all.

Their lives tell an 18th-century tale of two Americas. Against poverty and ignorance, Franklin prevailed; his sister did not.

But even a woman with such a famous brother couldn’t escape being nearly erased from history:

Jane Mecom died in that house in 1794. Later, during a political moment much like this one, when American politics was animated by self-serving invocations of the founders, her house was demolished to make room for a memorial to Paul Revere.


The 20th Century Wonder Woman

22 Apr

I’m not sure why this won’t embed, but you can still click on the link to get to the video.

Via Tiger Beatdown via Kickstarter.

The Story of Oney Judge

15 Apr

*The serious ends here.

Via Civil War Memory via Ta-Nehisi Coates*.

(And yes, I did just reverse the order that asterisks normally go in.)

Watch Your Socks, Boys

10 Apr

(Click on the picture to see a bigger version.)

The Case of the Gay Caveman

8 Apr

Archaeologists in the Czech Republic have found a 5,000-year-old male body buried with the kinds of burial objects that they would normally find with only female bodies.  The press (and apparently one of the archaeologists) are claiming that this indicates that he was gayContinue reading

Phyllis Schlafly and the 20th Century

6 Apr

Phyllis Schlafly may like to think that she’s only influenced society to see women’s proper place as being a wife and mother and nothing else, but her real legacy is much more complicated (thank goodness).

“First he said I was too little, then he said I was too young.”

4 Apr

Sometimes, you just want to steal things wholesale, but then your scruples get in the way.  So instead of reading about this lovely lady here, you’ll have to go read it there, where I got the picture from.  Oh well.  I couldn’t have transported all of those awesome comments over here anyway.

Sunday Collection

3 Apr

Embedded in a story about environmentalism, how the washing machine has effected women’s lives.

A new-ish trope in American cinema, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.  On one hand, it’s outside of the usual virgin-or-whore tropes, but on the other hand, it’s yet another trope where women in movies don’t get to be people for our own sake.

A woman who paved the way for other women in country music gets inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Men aren’t the only ones fighting for freedom in the Middle East and Africa.  Unfortunately, women are still paying the price for simply being women that they have always paid in war, whether they were involved in the fighting or not.

And finally, Women in Art, a handy instrument to answer those people who insist that the beauty standard for women has always been the same:

Etymology of “Midwife”

1 Apr

Words are weird concoctions that are fun to tease out.  Since I have no less than three friends who are expected to give birth within the next month, I’ve been thinking about midwifery lately.  “Midwife” is such a strange word – without any help, it sounds a bit like the midwife is in the middle of the wife.  Which, according to the laws of physics that I am aware of*, is not technically possible.

The Online Etymology Dictionary is a much better interpreter of the word than I am:

midwife – c.1300, “woman assisting,” literally “woman who is ‘with’ ” (the mother at birth), from M.E. mid “with” + wif “woman”. Cognate with German Beifrau.

For an incredible article about midwifery through history, read this.

* I could be wrong.  My husband just recently informed me of the fact that time doesn’t always move the same and totally messed up what I thought I knew about the universe.