Tuesday, March 09, 2010


I just wrote a comment on Undecided, Barbara and Shannon Kelley's blog. It's kind of long, so I thought it might work as a stand-alone piece too. Here it is:

I saw a comment yesterday (thanks, facebook) from someone saying that congratulating women on International women's day is like congratulating AIDS patients on International AIDS awareness day. There is something to that, I think.

Unrelated, but related: I was at a talk a couple of weeks ago about the past, present, and future of ethnic studies. It was a really good event. High quality invited panelists and lots of interesting stuff. Afterwards I had a discussion with my class. Several of them seemed to think that the only woman on the panel should have smiled more. The two men seemed happy, but the woman was more aggressive. My students (usually liberal and open minded young women and men) said she ’seemed angry.’ I told them that anger might be a relevant response if you teach ethnic studies (never a high on any priority list) in the University of California system right now (check the news for the most recent update on budget cuts). They persisted. She seemed angry, and that was a bad thing.

I hate to make any Downer my friend, but I do think realism is a good thing. It’s dangerous if we so value a positive attitude that we loose track of what is real. International women’s day is a day to remember those who came before us, and those who still need our solidarity. It may also be a good day to remember that real women don’t have to smile.

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