Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Sunday Radical Roundup: Libraries, Lefties, and Lonely Lovelorn Ladies

This Week In Library Fun: Amidst the excitement about the reopening of the St. Agnes Branch of the New York Public Library, other libraries in the system are slashing their hours on February 16 in response to budget cuts from City Hall. (Why does the mayor always take out the neighborhood libraries in a budget crisis when he could fire twenty or thirty cops and get the same $$? I ask you.) Changes affect nearly all branches except those on Staten Island and the privately endowed research libraries in Manhattan. Go here for new hours. At least for now, scholars and organized crime families will continue with the service they have, but there could also be no starker example of the distance that is growing between the actual public sphere and the privatized public sphere.

On The Left, On The Left: Tom Manoff, a former civil rights activist who has been the classical music critic for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered since 1985, has a terrific interview with feminist author Jane Lazarre up on his website. Lazarre, the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, is currently working on a book about her father Bill, who fought with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. Not only is Lazarre (the author of Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness: Memoir of a White Mother of Black Sons) her typically thoughtful self about writing, race and politics, but the interview also gives a few hints about what I predict (you heard it here first) will be a blockbuster book about the American left. Want to interview Lazarre yourself, or better yet, book her for a reading during Black History Month or Women's History Month? You can reach her through her agent, Wendy Weil.

While We're Still On The Left: Go here to sign the petition to the American Historical Association Council, asking them to use INMEX, a conference booking group that works with unions "to ensure its clients are booking their events in destinations that are free from labor disputes and helps steer professional associations away from meeting venues that are likely to be disrupted by a boycott, a picket line or a strike." I know this makes INMEX sound like a protection racket, but trust me! It's the right thing to do. If this works, all we need now is to make conferences more affordable -- I know more than one graduate student who bled green in San Diego without being offered a single flyback. And has anyone looked at the rates that are being charged for rooms at the OAH annual meeting?

That Ever-Elusive M.R.S. Degree Just Got Tougher: I am waiting for Historiann to fire with every muzzle-loading fowling piece at her disposal on this story by Alex Williams from today's New York Times. It's about the the woes suffered by female college students who can't find a boyfriend because -- there aren't enough boys on many campuses to go around! At the 60% female University of North Carolina, Saturday night "has grown tiresome: they slip on tight-fitting tops, hair sculpted, makeup just so, all for the benefit of one another, Ms. Andrew said, 'because there are no guys.'" And the ones that are available, it appears, are a little soiled, since they are either previously owned or are cheating on the girl friend they have. Tales of taking what you can get and having the man you did catch snapped up right under your eyes help Williams sing the heterosexual blues: "Thanks to simple laws of supply and demand, it is often the women who must assert themselves romantically or be left alone on Valentine’s Day, staring down a George Clooney movie over a half-empty pizza box." Worse, girls feel terrible pressure to -- what do they call it now? Give it up? -- in order to seal the deal.

I mean, please, Alex: this is a throwback to Cold War domesticity, where we pretended there were no gay and lesbian people on campus and that if a girl didn't leave college with a ring on her finger she was damaged goods. In the face of budget cuts, tuition increases, a market crash that took college savings with it, and a crisis in lending to college-bound students, could you have written a more shallow piece about higher education? Could you? And girls, if the details of what you are doing at college are not as (or more) important than what you are doing on Saturday night, and you really can't do without a man, swap that English or psych degree for a Physics major, why dontcha? Boys never make passes at girls who sit on their asses. Or do what both genders do at Zenith and other liberal arts colleges -- keep the English major and trade in your sexual preference for a couple of years. Or trade in your gender!

Finally, For Those Of You Not On The CLGBTH Listserve: How many times do I have to tell you to join? Sheesh. This week, we have a CFP for a conference in Vancouver, BC, “'We Demand': History/Sex/Activism In Canada," August 25-28, 2011. From the organizers:

On August 28, 1971 over two hundred lesbian and gay activists gathered on Parliament Hill to demand the federal government bring an end to laws and practices that criminalized, marginalized, and stigmatized lesbians and gays. Acting in solidarity with their central Canadian allies, Vancouver activists staged the same action on the steps of their city’s Court House. It was the first recorded national political action undertaken by gay liberationists and lesbian feminist activists in Canada.

”We Demand” marks the fortieth anniversary of the 1971 action. The conference seeks to showcase current work on all aspects of the history of sexuality in Canada, from pre-contact to present times.

Keynote speaker: Ann Cvetkovich, author of An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures.
Other confirmed speakers include Mary Louise Adams, Karen Dubinsky, Gary Kinsman, and Steven Maynard.

We are currently accepting proposals for panels, individual papers, roundtable discussions, poster sessions, and other means of communicating ideas and generating discussion. We welcome submissions from scholars, archivists, educators, public historians, and past and present political activists from all sexual fronts.

Panel and round table submissions should include a session title, a brief description of the panel or round table, abstracts for each paper of no more than 250 words, and a brief biography or one-page c.v./resume for each presenter and for the session chair. Individuals should submit a 250-word abstract plus a brief biography or one-page c.v./resume. Those submitting proposals for other types of presentations should contact the organizers for further instruction. The deadline for submission is 1 June 2010.

Please send queries and submissions to: wedemand2011ATgmailDOTcom.


dance said...

That Times article was amazingly bad. Made me wonder if the NYT had decided college students were the new Manhattan elite. Although, at least it is in the style/fashion section.

The Lazarre book on Whiteness looks very interesting.

Janice said...

That Times article, as many have, angered me greatly. Reinforcing the whole "you're only good if you can get a man, too" idea for young women is never helpful. And it's not just the parents, as the one student mentioned. It's the Times with its breathless "trend-creating" reporting making mountains of bad precedent out of other peoples' lives.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

No, on second thought, I have no words on the NYT article at the moment.

K said...

Actually the NYPD is down almost 4000 officers since 9/11, and that number is only set to increase as a generation of cops hits retirement and the hiring numbers remain at an all time low. It doesn't help that the starting salary for a rookie cop at this point is only about $28k (soon more, but not much), less than the military and the lowest for a major city, plus the NYPD requires at least 30 college credits which makes it expensive to even consider the police as a career. Anyway, point being, while library (and CUNY, and FDNY, and hell, NYPD) budgets are often offered as lambs to the budget crises, and the NYPD needs major reforms, everything in NYC at this point is suffering. There are few things one can take from to save another. The recent revelations about lying to CopStat belies the rise in major crimes, possibily in relation to the loss of officers.

And please don't ask if the NYT can write something more trite about higher education. I fear they might take you upon the challenge!

Anonymous said...

Yeah and what's to blame for the shortage of men on campuses, according to the article? Feminism, of course! *eye roll*

Kids shouldn't be wanting to get married at such a young age anyway.

Anonymous said...

I read the Times article, though I was less angered by it than some of the comments here. I appreciate the comments about the reinforcement of a hetero-normativity and the echoes of a Cold War-era domesticity. But I thought the dating commentary was just a lead in to a more complex issue: the numerical growth of women students at _public_ universities and what this says about almost seven years of war, the failure of education as a masculine ideal, and so forth. This is _not_ the same as the Seven Sisters during the 1950s, but to me speaks to the effects of the past 10 years. In short, I think the comparison to pre-existing social norms is apt, but equally distracts from considering some of the social effects of the WoT.

JackDanielsBlack said...

TR, in addition to your list of possible solutions to the boy-girl imbalance at liberal arts colleges, there is another time-tested solution esteemed by liberals -- affirmative action to correct the imbalance. Wonder why it isn't being pushed to correct this imbalance?

By the way, if a lesbian found herself lonely in a predominantly male setting, would you advise her to "trade in your gender" to remedy the situation?

Tenured Radical said...

Dear Jack,

Well, although it was a joke, lesbians do seem to be trading in their gender for one that suits them better up my way.

And actually, they *are* doing affirmative action for men to try to redress the gender balance. I think the article says that ever so briefly. And a little research will show you that small schools spend big bucks on football to try to butch up the school & get men to attend.

Another -- radical -- solution would be to try to think about other ways of admitting kids to college other than grades and test scores. And, as I point out, figure out *why* getting your ass shot off in the MIddle East seems like a better idea than going to college (ka-ching! ka-ching!)

You would be so proud of me today Jack -- I am running off to have an intimate chat with an architect of the Bush War on Terror. Wish you were here!


JackDanielsBlack said...

Hope you have an interesting interchange of views. And I must say, though I thoroughly disagree with the Bush approach, John Yoo seems to have balls of steel in defending it in interviews with John Stewart, Fareed Zakaria, etc.

As for liberal arts colleges "Masculining up" by putting more money into football and basketball to attract more men, having such programs doesn't seem to be working in fixing the problem at UNC, the school featured in the NY Times article that you cite.

By the way, did some of the SuperBowl ads seem a little misogynistic to you --they did to me.

Term Papers said...

At least for now, scholars and organized crime families will continue with the service they have, but there could also be no starker example of the distance that is growing between the actual public sphere and the privatized public sphere.

Anonymous said...

Not impressed with your thinking of getting rid of 'cops' as a solution. If anything, more 'cops' are seriously needed. Considering the murder rate (wasn't there a particularily gruesome one recently in Middletown?), and the difficulty in simply waundering the streets safely in the evenings, I think a better solution would be to get rid of the proposed health care bill that will not only raise taxes but impose undue hardships on the impoverished souls.

I think a much better solution would be to just get rid of overpaid municipal management level employees. Recently I walked into a city managers office in a city of over 40,000. The receptionist was on some sort of a break, the door was open so I marched on in.

What I found was the city manager in the flesh, reclining in his aerochair, with his legs stretched out and his feet on the desk.... Yuh. And I work for them. I might add he was in no rush to get his feet off the desk and try to act like he deserved the hundred and some thousand dollar paycheck my city taxes are paying him.. Shame.

Keep the library employees and cops, get rid of lazy municipal and government employees who seem to think its a God given right to sit and get paid!


Tenured Radical said...

Dear Joni:

Well, everyone is entitled to her opinion, except that all opinions about the grisly murder we had at Zenith don't really address what happened. a)it was by a stalker who had been repeatedly reported to the police who did nothing; b) the police interviewed him at the scene and let him go.

Fewer and better police perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Have to disagree with you again TR. Trading in the English degree for a Physics degree isn't going to work. They don't want to have to date the physics guys. They want the alpha guys who major in gym.


Shonda said...

In case you missed it UNC at Chapel Hill Chancellor Thorp responded to the NYT article about the gender gap on campus.