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Request for Citations

This is for the research ethics course I'm teaching this semester. I'm looking for references to studies that may have prompted one of the primary concerns of feminist research: the relationship between researcher and participants. Can you think of any examples of studies in which the relationship between researchers and participants suffered from a severe power imbalance, resulting in harm to the participants, especially studies actually referenced by feminist researchers as evidence for the need to empower participants in the research process? There are the obvious ones:

1. The studies in Nazi concentration camps that prompted the Nuremberg Code

2. The Tuskeegee syphilis study

3. The John/Joan study

4. The Thalidomide clinical trials

But there must be others. Actual bibliographical citations would be terrific, but are not necessary; I'd be happy with simple leads I could look into.

Feminisms and Rhetorics 2007

I am so there:

Call for Papers

The 2007 Feminism(s) and Rhetoric(s) conference invites proposals on civic discourse, feminisms, and rhetorics. The conference draws its inspiration from the 50th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School, the Clinton Presidential Library, Heifer Project International & the Clinton School for Public Service.

This conference asks us to explore civic discourse and how civic discourse, feminism(s) and rhetoric(s) interact with, for, and against each other.

• What is civic discourse? What counts as civic discourse?
• How has civic discourse changed over the years for women? For feminism?
• What does it mean to participate in civic discourse in the 21st century?
• How do we participate in civic discourse?
• How has the internet/electronic discourse affected civic discourse?
• How has civic discourse become corporatized?
• How has globalization impacted civic discourse?
• What does it mean to be a feminist and/or rhetorician participating in civic discourse?

We look forward to reading proposals from a wide variety of disciplines, including, but not limited to, history, ethics, new media, political science, social justice, pedagogy, law, literature, art and art theory, queer theory, international studies, cultural studies, race studies, economics, environmental studies, science, social activism, communication studies, technical communication, visual design, philosophy, and engineering.

It seems like national academic conferences in my field are hardly ever held in the south. There was CCCC 2004 in San Antonio, but that's it. I'd like to see more conferences in Nashville, Birmingham, or Atlanta, as I'd have a free place to stay.

PMLA-related disappointment

You may know that there are lots of web sites that consist of collections of brief quotations uttered by political leaders. They're decontextualized sound bites, pretty much. I tell my students that they may not use these sites as sources for their papers; this is because the quotations are insubstantial and out of context, and they simply will not suffice as evidence to support an argument (it's in the syllabus, even). Imagine my disappointment, then, when I saw the following in the October 2006 PMLA, by brilliant feminist critic Susan Gubar:

It's no laughing matter that the Supreme Court is being reconfigured, along with our traditional civil rights and liberties, by a president whose commitment to education remains in doubt ("You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test"), whose military aggression has harmed people here and around the globe ("I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace"), and whose tax cuts injure many health and welfare programs ("They misunderestimated me"). As large numbers of women are put at risk by the widening divide between rich and poor ("I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family"), by the incursion into civic arenas of religious ideologies that reinstate traditional sexual hierarchies while failing to mask proliferating ecological disasters ("I trust God speaks through me"), have the goals of feminists been put in jeopardy?

The source cited in the bibliography is The Complete Bushisms. So maybe I'm a fuddy-duddy, but in my opinion this use of sound-bite quotations is not witty or clever. It's lazy, it undermines Gubar's credibility, it alienates a segment of the audience, and it mucks up the otherwise articulate and important points Gubar is making. It aids in lowering the level of political discourse to which I aspire and to which I hope my students will aspire. How can I not allow students to make this type of move when an eminent scholar is doing it in one of the field's top journals? (I mean, I'm still not going to allow it, but there it is.)

New Gender Policy in NYC

Looks like soon in New York City, you'll be able to change the sex on your birth certificate without undergoing sexual reassignment surgery. The whole article is interesting and worth the read, but I wanted to extract these particular passages:

The change would lead to many intriguing questions: For example, would a man who becomes a woman be able to marry another man? (Probably.) Would an adoption agency be able to uncover the original sex of a proposed parent? (Not without a court order.) Would a woman who becomes a man be able to fight in combat, or play in the National Football League? (These areas have yet to be explored.)
[. . .]
Joann Prinzivalli, 52, a lawyer for the New York Transgender Rights Organization, a man who has lived as a woman since 2000, without surgery, said the changes amount to progress, a move away from American culture’s misguided fixation on genitals as the basis for one’s gender identity.

“It’s based on an arbitrary distinction that says there are two and only two sexes,” she said. “In reality the diversity of nature is such that there are more than just two, and people who seem to belong to one of the designated sexes may really belong to the other.”

Progress indeed.

Hank Johnson Ad on Daily Kos

As if Cynthia McKinney didn't suffer enough indignity when she dared to change her hairstyle, now her opponent, Hank Johnson, has a campaign ad on Daily Kos trotting out one of the most hackneyed woman-bashing tropes there is:

I wonder if any politician would ever make a reference to a male opponent's "shrill, polarizing politics"?

Note to Hank Johnson's campaign: Disagree with her views, her voting record if you want to, but don't embarrass yourself by stooping this low.

UPDATE: Much better. Maybe some Kossacks complained about the first one.


  • Color me impressed with All Girl Army. Jenny emailed me the announcement that the site is live, so I clicked over there. The contributors to the site are writing letters to themselves in the future, which is a great idea. In fact, I had a high school English teacher who assigned a letter to ourselves ten years in the future. She told us to turn them in in sealed, stamped envelopes with the address that would be most likely to serve as a permanent address. She promised to mail them to us. She didn't. You don't know how many times I've wanted to put her name here as a Google bomb. I've even halfway hoped that she had a good reason for not sending the letters, like a fire burned her house to the ground. The only thing I remember writing in the letter was "Re-read The Awakening." So I probably ought to get around to that soon. Anyway, check out All Girl Army.
  • I read this article on ethanol with interest, especially this part:

    Last year corn production topped 11 billion bushels — second only to 2004's record harvest. But many analysts doubt whether the scientists and farmers can keep up with the ethanol merchants.

    "By the middle of 2007, there will be a food fight between the livestock industry and this biofuels or ethanol industry," Mr. Basse, the economic forecaster, said. "As the corn price reaches up above $3 a bushel, the livestock industry will be forced to raise prices or reduce their herds. At that point the U.S. consumer will start to see rising food prices or food inflation."

    If that occurs, the battleground is likely to shift to some 35 million acres of land set aside under a 1985 program for conservation and to help prevent overproduction. Farmers are paid an annual subsidy averaging $48 an acre not to raise crops on the land. But the profit lure of ethanol could be great enough to push the acreage, much of it considered marginal, back into production.

    Huh. I know there are probably lots of technical and economic reasons this won't work (ethanol can be make more cheaply with sugar than with corn), but what about all that corn used to make the high-fructose corn syrup that's in everything, which may be contributing to the obesity epidemic? How about taking that corn syrup out of the ranch dressing and using that corn for ethanol? This way, maybe the livestock can still eat cheap corn, and the conservation reserve can continue to lay fallow. I wish the article had addressed that argument.

  • Check out Bill Benzon's essay about YouTube. Good stuff.
  • Songs about sad songs are annoying, and I want to put a stop to them. I mean, there's "So Sick" by LL Cool J feat. Ne-Yo, Elton John's "Sad Songs (Say So Much)," "There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)" by Billy Ocean, and "Another Sad Love Song" by Toni Braxton. When will it end?


Did all of you already know about feministing.org, a rather regrettable parody of the actual feministing? I can't believe I've only just now happened upon it (via Ilyka Damen).

New Issue of S&F Online: Writing a Feminist's Life

I haven't read through it yet, but the new issue of Scholar & Feminist Online looks fantastic. Those interested in biography, autobiography, and Carolyn Heilbrun's work should head over there. TOC follows:

Part 1: Carolyn and Columbia
Opening Remarks, by Jean E. Howard
Carol and Columbia, by Joan Ferrante
The Power and Joy of Being Difficult, by Ann Douglas
The Life of the Author, by Margaret Vandenburg
Out of the Academy and Into the World with Carolyn G. Heilbrun, Video, CUNY 1992

Part 2: Academics and Their Memoirs
Just Writing (A Feminist's Life), by Marianne Hirsch
Walking (Even Now) with Carolyn, by Mary Ann Caws
Memoir and Academics, by Charlotte Pierce-Baker
Teaching/Depression, by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
The Age Difference, by Nancy K. Miller
Not an Academic Memoir, by Shirley Geok-lin Lim
If Only, by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
A Border Passage, Leila Ahmed

Part 3: Conference Comments and Conversations
Video with Text Transcripts

Part 4: Coda
Reading in the Waiting Room, by Susan Gubar
Missed Connections/Mourning Carolyn Heilbrun, by Susan Winnett

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