Women in Astronomy: Henrietta Swan Leavitt

How big is everything? How much everything even is there? We have answers to these questions because of Henrietta Swan Leavitt, one of my favorite astronomers. Leavitt passed away on this day, December 12, in 1921, a too-young 53, taken by stomach cancer.

Leavitt was one of the computers at the Harvard College Observatory. Before adopting the name to describe machines that crunch numbers, computers were low-level staff, often women, who did the complicated [Continue reading]

Women in Astronomy: Cecelia Payne-Gaposchkin

I’ve been reading a lot of astronomy lately and it’s striking how many major advances in our understanding of the universe have been made by women – women whose contributions often go unsung. Since women’s history is basically what I do, I thought I’d take a few minutes now and again to highlight some of these women and what they accomplished.

Today (Dec 7) in 1979. Cecelia Payne-Gaposchkin passed away. Born and raised in [Continue reading]

Brett Kavanaugh’s Failure to Launch

There have been many responses, mostly Conservative but not all, to Dr. Ford’s accusations against Kavanaugh that have focused on the idea that people shouldn’t be held responsible for the mistakes they made when they were young. And you know what, they’re not entirely wrong – but they all entirely miss the point.

The issue isn’t that a middle-aged man is being held responsible for the misadventures of youth. The issue is that a young [Continue reading]

So now twerking is cultural appropriation?

TWERK (Photo credit: mikeywally)

In the wake of Miley Cyrus’ apparently disastrous performance on MTV’s 2013 Video Music Awards show, I’ve been seeing a lot of conversations (or more often, declarations) about twerking as a form of cultural appropriation. Twerking, according to what I’m reading, is intimately bound to black culture and when white women integrate it into their own dance performances, they are essentially stealing black culture — appropriating to themselves [Continue reading]

Sex: It’s What’s for Dinner

This essay was originally published Dec 14, 2005, at Savage Minds. Due to a server problem, Savage Minds’ archives are currently down, so I’m reposting this here.

Yam Yam Yam (Photo credit: cogdogblog)

The connection between eating and having sex is a fairly obvious one. Many of the words we use to describe sexual desire (hunger, voracious appetite) and sex acts themselves (eating out, munching), and even various body parts (my favorite: “the split [Continue reading]

Things I’ve Learned at BurlyCon 2011 (Final Edition)

[UPDATE: I cut a section which I want to post more in-depth on later. Miss Astrid’s “State of Neo-Burlesque” raised some really important points bit I’m not sure I’m the right person to address them.]

Back home today after an intense, amazing, mind-expanding, soul-filling, heart-warming long weekend at BurlyCon 2011 in Seattle, and boy is my mind racing! The first two days were great, but Saturday and Sunday were simply magical. I’ve had so many [Continue reading]

Things I’ve Learned at BurlyCon 2011 (Half-Time Edition)

For the past two days I’ve been attending BurlyCon 2011 in Seattle. BurlyCon is a non-performance burlesque invention, meaning that unlike most burlesque gatherings where the foocus is on stage performances, burlesque dancers gather here to take classes, socialize, and get feedback from their peers on troublesome routines.

Two days in and with two days left, I thought I’d share some quick observations.

1) In a culture that fetishizes youth, burlesque’s openness to older women [Continue reading]

Anti-Anti-Women’s Studies (An Open Letter to Jan Oller)

Image by cathredfern via Flickr

My former colleague in Women’s Studies, Jan Oller, write an op-ed piece in a local alternative weekly attacking WMST as a discipline and supporting recent budgetary decisions to terminate the program. Since I don’t have a current email address for him, I’ve decided to post my response here as an open letter. I hope he sees it!



I don’t say this very often, but after publishing [Continue reading]

Teaching WMST While Male

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

I was asked by Laurenn McCubbin, the curator of the show Feminist/Las Vegas which opened at the Barrick Museum last night, to write a presentation for the opening reception of the exhibition. The show is intended as a reaction to the casual sexism that is the bread-and-butter of Vegas tourism and nightlife. Since my interaction as a feminist with Las Vegas occurs first and foremost in [Continue reading]

Discovering the Male Gaze

Image via Wikipedia

One of my former students sent me a link to an article he’d come across recently called “Worthless Women and the Men Who Make Them”. The post, written on a “daddy blog” called Single Dad Laughing is a few months old and, judging from the over 1800 comments, almost all hyperbolically positive, spoke to a lot of people, men and women. The author, Dan Pearce, argues that the biggest force [Continue reading]