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Category Archives: women

Introducing My Book

Last November, my book, Representations of Murdering Women in Literature, Theatre, Film and Television: Examining the Patriarchal Presuppositions Behind the Treatment of Murderesses in Fiction and Reality was published. This anthology includes sixteen other writers exploring the murdering woman throughout time in the genres of film, literature, theatre and television.

My interest in this subject centers around plays about women who murder, particularly plays that I feel give the murderess a second day in court. Many of the playwrights I am drawn to explore how the “system” responds to these women. In a nutshell, women who murder are considered bad or evil or crazy, while men who murder are an inevitability, as in boys will be boys.

The book was published by the Edwin Mellen Press, a scholarly press. I make no money on the project until I sell 500 books. A former student of mine interviewed me for this video on the book as a project for her graduate journalism course. I was unfortunately getting over a cold at the time.

International Women’s Day in Review

In the U.S. no one knows it is International Women’s Day. It’s not even listed on half the calendars. It says “Mardi Gras” on most calendars I saw. Of course we would be celebrating a big party with booze flowing than the rights of over half the population.

In many parts of the world, women get the day off from work and men give them flowers. How can we start that tradition here? We hold an annual event for IWD every year, co-hosted by our International Student & Scholar center, but I think next year we should have every woman take a personal day and let the university see what it would be like to function without women, just for a day.

The Republicans are attacking reproductive rights in our country with only two and a half months in office. And it isn’t just happening at the federal level. State legislatures are already gearing up to limit access and to try to pass laws given fetal rights over a woman’s. Here’s an interesting attack in Georgia “H.B. 1, a law proposed in the House of Representatives of the Georgia General Assembly by State Rep. Bobby Franklin (R-Marietta). This law would not only make abortion completely illegal in Georgia (the bill refers to it as ‘prenatal murder’), but it would also put a burden on any woman who has a miscarriage to prove that it happened naturally and was not induced in any way. The result would be that every single miscarriage in the state of Georgia would have to be reported to state officials. Many could be potentially investigated by the authorities, a daunting proposition given that anywhere from 15 to 20 percent of known pregnancies miscarry. The penalties for this so-called prenatal murder, whether by abortion or by a miscarriage that authorities determine had “human involvement,” include life in prison—or even death.”

In South Dakota, Iowa, & Nebraska lawmakers are looking at making the killing of abortion doctors “justifiable homicide.” Justifiable homicide? Sometimes I wonder if I went to sleep in October 2010 and woke up in Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale this year. If we want to make the world a better place for women, we know that giving them freedom in deciding when to bear children makes a huge difference. According to today’s Huffington Post, “an estimated 215 million women in the developing world want to avoid a pregnancy, but are not currently using a modern method of birth control.”

As we move into Women’s History Month, perhaps we can begin reflecting on what we are doing to make this a better world for women and staying on top of what our elected officials are trying to do in the name of budget deficits to limit our freedom.

In June 2008 the new Bristol County Commission on the Status of Women was passed into legislation.

Nine months later, nine commissioners were appointed representing the following towns throughout Bristol County: Mansfield, Assonet, Norton, Swansea, Raynham, South Dartmouth, New Bedford and Berkley.

The move to make this legislation came out of a regional council of women brought together after a regional hearing of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, held in Bristol County.

The MCSW regularly travels throughout the state holding regional public hearings where citizens of the commonwealth may express concerns relating to the status of women and girls in Massachusetts.

After holding a hearing in Bristol County, a group of women, led by Gail Fortes, the Executive Director of the YWCA of Southeastern Massachusetts and a new BCCSW commissioner, began to meet regularly to examine research and data on girls and women in Bristol County in order to develop an agenda and action plan on women’s issues.

Out of this agenda came the need to develop a county commission. Regional council members felt this was the best way to represent women, as developing specific city-based women’s commissions would be more difficult and time consuming. For example, having to develop commissions in Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford would have been all-consuming and the outlying towns would not have representation in those city commissions.

State Sen. Joan Menard and Rep. Pat Haddad were the envoys for the legislation, writing it and pushing it through both the House and the Senate. Strangely, the bill was stuck for months in the Ways and Means committee, even though the legislation does not include any funding from the state.

But after months of waiting, it was finally passed. And then the MCSW went to work trying to find commissioners in Bristol County. This task took nine months.

On March 31, seven of the nine appointees were sworn in before a small crowd of friends, local politicians and commissioners from the MCSW at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. The first meeting was held following the swearing-in to examine by-laws and the rules of running a local state commission.

As there had been priorities set previously by the regional council, these issues were brought to the table. These five priorities are as follows:

1. Education: funding for education, particularly higher education, keeping girls in school and workforce development.

2. Pay equity: closing the wage gap and equal pay for equal work.

3. Health care: access to affordable health care and access to birth control options, including abortion.

4. Leadership development: providing opportunities for women and girls, developing a mutual support network for women and girls, and promoting advancement opportunities for women in the workforce.

5. Providing access to affordable housing, childcare and transportation.

Of the seven commissioners present, all were in agreement with these five priorities, but felt that adding the issue of domestic violence as a sixth priority was imperative.

The commissioners will meet again for their second meeting on May 6 at UMass Dartmouth and will begin their work.

Announcements will be forthcoming in the fall regarding local city and town hearings where citizens of Bristol County can provide input on issues facing girls and women in Bristol County. The commissioners will then make recommendations and propose solutions.

It is an exciting time to be a woman in Bristol County!

my feminist praxis

critical reflections on my feminist praxis: activism, motherhood, and life

The Feminist Critic

Providing weekly critiques of theatre, film, books, politics and pop culture from a feminist perspective.