Saturday, September 20, 2014

Weekend Reading

Welcome to the weekend! We made it! As celebration, here's a collection of longer reads for your pleasure!

Wonder Woman, introduced in 1941, was a creation of utopian feminism, inspired by Margaret Sanger and the ideals of free love. Jill Lepore uncovers the remarkable and complex feminist background of Wonder Woman in her New Yorker piece, The Last Amazon
Superman d├ębuted in 1938, Batman in 1939, Wonder Woman in 1941. She was created by William Moulton Marston, a psychologist with a Ph.D. from Harvard. A press release explained, “ ‘Wonder Woman’ was conceived by Dr. Marston to set up a standard among children and young people of strong, free, courageous womanhood; to combat the idea that women are inferior to men, and to inspire girls to self-confidence and achievement in athletics, occupations and professions monopolized by men” because “the only hope for civilization is the greater freedom, development and equality of women in all fields of human activity.” Marston put it this way: “Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world.”

For another fantastic and detailed piece about women in comics, check out Lisa Hix's piece Women Who Conquered the Comics World in Collectors Weekly.
Messick’s sexy and stylish character, which took great inspiration from Nell Brinkley, eluded kidnappers, jumped from airplanes with a parachute, and got stranded on desert islands. “One of my favorites is where Brenda Starr joins this teenage gang,” Robbins says. “The gang leader is a blonde, and all the other members wear blonde wigs. She disguises herself with blonde hair and pretends to be a teenager so that she can join this gang of girl juvenile delinquents. Another time, she’s kidnapped by this albino Polynesian princess and winds up on this island where she discovers that her true love, the Mystery Man, Basil St. John, who is also being held prisoner by the Polynesian princess because she wants him to marry her. Messick came up with great stuff.”

[TW: rape, sexual assault, domestic violence]
Sara Bernard has a poignant story about a group of folks in rural Alaska who are taking on abusers in their midst: Rape Culture in the Alaskan Wilderness
Then, last year, Jane joined the Tanana 4-H club, a newly minted outlet for local youth of all ages to gather and play games and craft things like blueberry jam and beaver hats. It’s run by Cynthia Erickson, owner of Tanana’s general store and native of Ruby, a village 100 miles downriver. Erickson says she started the program because of suicide: Three years ago, there were six in Tanana. At first, she just wanted to give Tanana’s kids a place to do things with their hands, to go on field trips, to feel supported. But what began as a diversion quickly became a safe place for kids to share all kinds of traumas they were witnessing and experiencing: sexual and domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, death after brutal death. The discussions they’d have were rarely prearranged, Erickson says. Instead, the kids would launch the conversation by saying, “Did you hear what happened?”
Joann Weiner has a fantastic interview with up-and-coming Rwandan activists, Nadine Niyitegeka: I’ve seen the future of Rwanda, and her name is Nadine
Spend just a few minutes with a charismatic 22-year-old Rwandan woman with bright, sparkling eyes and a lilt in her voice and you’ll know you’ve seen the future of Rwanda.

That beacon of hope is Nadine Niyitegeka, a woman whose photograph as a shy 2-year-old is displayed on the wall of Kigali’s Genocide Memorial Center as one of the thousands of innocent children slaughtered in Rwanda’s genocide 20 years ago.

“I’m still alive,” Nadine needlessly explained during our hour-long interview. “And I’m going places!”

In his photo essay, The Women of West Point, Damon Winter captures the daily life for the U.S. Military Academy’s 786 female cadets.
From its founding in 1802, on George Washington’s earlier recommendation, until 1976, West Point admitted no women. Since then, more than 4,100 have followed in the steps of the first 62 female graduates in 1980. Many more are on the way, too, now that the American military will be opening combat positions to qualifying women by 2016. The 263 female cadets who started at West Point this year made up 22 percent of the incoming class, a record number, up from 16 percent last year.

They and their fellow first-year cadets, or plebes, reported for Reception Day on July 2, which marked the beginning of six weeks of cadet basic training, a k a Beast Barracks, and the end of their civilian lifestyles. “I knew I was going to need to step it up in the physical realm,” Danilack says, referring to her own early days on campus. “But I never knew it was going to be as hard as it turned out to be.” Upon graduating, she and her classmates received their commissions — and their bars — as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.

Meet CEO Martine Rothblatt, a transwoman who founded Sirius radio, pioneered AI, and so much more!
In person, Martine is magnificent, like a tall lanky teenage boy with breasts. She wears no makeup or jewelry, and she inhabits her muted clothing—cargo pants, a T-shirt, a floppy button-down thrown on top—in the youthful, offhand way of the tech elite. Martine is transgender, a power trans, which makes her an even rarer species in the corporate jungle than a female CEO. And she seems genuinely to revel in her self-built in-betweenness. Just after her sex-reassignment surgery in 1994, her appearance was more feminine than it is today—old photos show her wearing lipstick, her long, curly hair loose about her shoulders. But in the years since she has developed her own unisexual style. She is a person for whom gender matters enough to have undergone radical surgery, but not enough to care whether she’s called he or she by people, like her 83-year-old mother, who occasionally lose track of which pronoun to use.


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