Thursday, November 30, 2006

GaIDI Scholars among Feminists who Changed America

GaIDI Scholars Ruth Nemzoff and Roberta Salper along with Paula Doress-Worters, have been included in the book, Feminists Who Changed America 1963-1975, edited by Barbara Love, with a foreword by Nancy F. Cott (Harvard historian). Just published by the University of Illinois Press, it is over 500 pages with 2000 biographies of feminists selected by an Advisory Board because of their significant contributions during this period.
Its publication was celebrated by an event sponsored by The Veteran Feminists of America and hosted by Judith Shapiro, President of Barnard College. Hundreds of women representing the broad political spectrum of the second wave women’s movement came to reflect on what they had done right and how they could continue to improve the world. Featured speakers included Gloria Steinam and Heather Booth and a tribute was paid to Ellen Willis, one of the founders of Redstockings, a radical group in 1970s in New York. Other memorable figures in attendance were Catherine MacKinnon, Kate Millet, Sheila Tobias, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Karen Decrow, and Catherine Stimpson. During the "rap session", it was striking to listen to many women, each working in the separate arenas which create the fabric of life (art, music, religion, health, politics, etc), recall what it took to change America: an abused woman thanked the group for the support she received that helped resolve her problems, a lesbian thanked the group for helping her imagine she could have children which indeed she did. Women talked of changes in the health care system, in religions. Discussions ensued on how no field has been left untouched by the 2nd wave feminists who indeed did change the world.
To say a bit more on each of the above WSRC Scholars, Paula Doress-Worters was a founder of the Boston Women's Health Collective in 1969 which wrote Our Bodies, Ourselves which has not only transformed American medicine, but has been translated in multiple languages. Paula was a contributor to all editions of Our Bodies, Ourselves, including Our Bodies, Ourselves for the New Century (1998), Ourselves Growing Older (1986, 1994) and Ourselves and Our Children (1978). She continues to serve on the founders committee and to publish in the field of health care and women.
Ruth Nemzoff started the women's movement in southern New Hampshire and a counseling service for women. Later she was the first woman to serve while pregnant in a regular session of the New Hampshire legislature where she sponsored legislation to open adoption records, and to give education to displaced homemakers. She rose to be assistant minority leader. She began the Equal Opportunity Office in The New Hampshire Department of Education and served as the first women deputy Commissioner of Health and welfare in that state and the first women on the New Hampshire Business Development Corporation and on the board of the Bank of New Hampshire. Later she was one of the founders of the National Women's Legislator's lobby.
Roberta Salper was the head of the first Women’s Studies Program in the United States at San Diego State University (then College) in 1970. As such, she was the first full-time faculty member hired in Women's Studies. Author of Female Liberation: History and Current Politics (Vintage, 1971), one of the first anthologies on the women's Movement, she was an early activist in the Women's Caucus of the New University Conference (1969), was a member of the first Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession of the Modern Language Association (1969) and was a principal founder of Women's Liberation in Pittsburgh (1968). As Assistant Professor and Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, she both lobbied to create and taught the university's first women's studies course.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Louise Lopman's presentation: "Counted and Discounted: Murdered and Disappeared Women Women in Ciudad Juárez México”

Poster : Enough!

A presentation titled "Counted and Discounted: Murdered and Disappeared Women in Ciudad Juárez México” was made by Louise Levesque Lopman, Sociology and WSRC Resident Scholar on a panel (with Brandeis faculty members Silvia Arrom and Roxanne Davila), Portrayals of Mexican Women through Art, October 24, 2006. The panel was in conjunction with the WSRC Exhibit of Daniella Rossell’s provocative photographs, The Richness of Mexico, whose subjects are Mexican women from the one percent of the political, economic and social elite of Mexico City. The talk, which included a powerpoint presentation of photos, posters and paintings, was a drastic contrast to Rossell’s images.

The focus of the talk was on the hundreds of disappearances and the “feminicide/femicide” (femicidio), the brutal torture, rape, and murder with impunity of over 400 young poor Mexican women in the U.S.-Mexico border city of Juárez, Mexico since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993. Described by neo-liberal policy makers and U.S. multi-national investors as a “laboratory of modernization and globalization,” a “city of the future,” women of Juárez live in squalid slums, colonias populares, in “homes” constructed from wooden pallets and cardboard boxes discarded by the maquilas, with roofs of tarpaper and scraps of tin. There is no plumbing, electricity or sanitation and there is no clean drinking water.

One third of the women who were murdered had worked under abominable conditions for below-minimum wages in the maquiladoras - factories, mostly “sweatshops,” in duty-free export-processing zones where 90 percent of the electronic components and auto parts are manufactured and assembled for export to the U.S. An important objective of the talk was to humanize the discourse, to give a human face to the so-called “cheap labour,” and to the cultural, social, economic, and political vioence that maquila workers, and their families experience in their everyday lives. Also, it is a hope that the lives, disappearances and murders of the young women of Juárez will matter, so that they COUNT AND CANNOT BE DISCOUNTED.

For pictures used in the presentation, please visit:

Friday, November 10, 2006

Mary Oestereicher Hamill's presentation on the Vietnam Medical Project

Village woman in Vietnam
The Vietnam Medical Project is the current subject of Mary Oestereicher Hamill’s video installation art. Sponsored by the International Medical Options program at Stanford University Medical School Mary was part of a team of 20 persons who spent August 2006 in a remote rural village of QuangNam province delivering medical services. In the agricultural village, TraDong, typical housing had dirt floors and no clean running water or toilets.

The team converted a schoolhouse into a clinic (and their dormitory) and proceeded to care for 750 people who in most cases had never seen a doctor. As the sole non-medic, she carried out triage and photography. Mary enjoyed directing a grass roots informal project in which villagers photographed other villagers, culminating in the sewing of a 30 square foot banner with eighteen color photographs, now installed in the village’s cultural center.

For more pictures visit: