Saturday, June 09, 2012
A croissant right out of the oven is food for goddesses and gods (never mind the health problems). But almost as soon as that something horrible happens to it (unless it's happily eaten first.)
A one-day-old croissant is no longer edible, given the calories it packs. It's better not to wait too long before devouring it.
Aren't you glad for that advice?
Friday, June 08, 2012
A milder and gentler form (no pyres as the ultimate punishment) is affecting one Sister Margaret A. Farley:
The Vatican’s doctrinal office on Monday denounced an American nun who taught Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School for a book that attempted to present a theological rationale for same-sex relationships, masturbation and remarriage after divorce.
The Vatican office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that the book, “Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics,” by Sister Margaret A. Farley, was “not consistent with authentic Catholic theology,” and should not be used by Roman Catholics.
Sister Farley, a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and an award-winning scholar, responded in a statement: “I can only clarify that the book was not intended to be an expression of current official Catholic teaching, nor was it aimed specifically against this teaching. It is of a different genre altogether.”
As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Vatican's war against uppity women has clearly intensified in the recent months.
Just to remind you that the previous election wasn't supposed to be about the so-called social issues, either, but about jobs, and still the Republican domination of states has given us so many new laws about abortion! These people do seem obsessed by who it is who can decide on procreation.
What is hilarious about all this is the juxtaposition of these two issues in the Republican platform: NEVAH regulate markets! ALWAYS regulate wimminz! That's what freedom means.
Or corporations are people. Women? The jury is still out on that.
Thursday, June 07, 2012
By this time in November, three women of color could be filling what are arguably the top three positions of justice and law enforcement in California -- the same state that was the first to send two women to the U.S. Senate.
Oh how I hope that Massachusetts sends a woman to the US Senate this year... The first ever, sigh.
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
That's how the Republicans who send me e-mails interpret the failed attempt to recall governor Scott Walker (also known to me as one of the Nazgûls). To paraphrase those e-mails:
Voters have declared that they love the idea of killing the unions, of stripping teachers, nurses, fire fighters and police officers of those "exorbitant" middle-class benefits (to quote David Brooks!)
Voters love the Republican messages and come fall, Obama will be history and Romney (also known as R-Money) will govern this country along the lines governor Walker laid out.
Which are feudal lines. Perhaps that's why I cannot help seeing governor Walker as one of the Nazgûls and ALEC as the Mordor where Sauron rules, from Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings.
There's something medieval about the Republican platform, what with its desire to remove any resistance to the modern equivalents of the feudal overlords: The Corporations. Unions are the enemies of corporations (because firms cannot get wages really low with unionized labor), and thus the command to the Nazgûls is to destroy unions. The easiest place to begin with that is to attack government workers.
But never mind that. I was going to write about the recall election and why Walker survived it. Given that all the polls suggested he would survive it the outcome didn't come as any kind of surprise. What remains is the analysis of what voters may have meant in their choices.
In that context this is an important point:
A solid majority of Wisconsin voters – 60 percent – said recall elections are appropriate only in cases of “official misconduct,” according to the Edison exit poll. Some 27 percent said recalls are OK for any reason, and 10 percent said they’re never acceptable.
Perhaps the Wisconsin voters voted on the recall elections and not only on who should be the governor? Worth keeping in mind.
On the other hand:
Exit polling showed 54 percent of Wisconsin voters approved of Walker’s performance on job creation and 52 percent approved of the recent changes to state law limiting the ability of government workers to collectively bargain over pay and benefits. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate, 6.7 percent in April, is below the national average.
Walker's performance on job creation has been pretty miserable. But whatever.
On the third hand:
3. Public employee unions are not under water in Wisconsin. Slightly more than half in the exit poll - 51 percent - said they have a favorable opinion of unions for government workers, compared with 45 percent who viewed them unfavorably. That's even though 52 percent said they approved of Walker's sharp cutback of collective bargaining rights.
I'm running out of hands here* and am nowhere nearer to learning what the majority of Wisconsin voters had in mind.
Neither can I tell if the voters understand all the consequences of that "sharp cutback of collective bargaining rights." Those are not just potential tax-breaks for the voters but also reduce the lifetime incomes of government workers. When earnings for a particular job are slashed fewer people will apply for that job and those who do apply will be, on average, less qualified. Something to think about, for the future of Wisconsin schools, say.
* Walker was certainly also helped by the humongous amounts of money he got from his rich friends in the Republican Party, including those who explicitly stated they want to kill unions.
Can be found here. It's funny and it's also pertinent.
The New York Times has a long article on whether the morning-after pill "kills babies" (in forced-birth jargon) or not. In other words, can the pill prevent a fertilized egg from attaching itself to the uterine lining? Because that would be murder in the Brave New No Abortions World.
And the conclusion? It is becoming pretty clear that the morning-after pill does not prevent implantation of fertilized egg:
Labels inside every box of morning-after pills, drugs widely used to prevent pregnancy after sex, say they may work by blocking fertilized eggs from implanting in a woman’s uterus. Respected medical authorities, including the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic, have said the same thing on their Web sites.
Such descriptions have become kindling in the fiery debate over abortion and contraception.
Based on the belief that a fertilized egg is a person, some religious groups and conservative politicians say disrupting a fertilized egg’s ability to attach to the uterus is abortion, “the moral equivalent of homicide,” as Dr. Donna Harrison, who directs research for the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, put it. Mitt Romney recently called emergency contraceptives “abortive pills.” And two former Republican presidential candidates, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, have made similar statements.
But an examination by The New York Times has found that the federally approved labels and medical Web sites do not reflect what the science shows. Studies have not established that emergency contraceptive pills prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the womb, leading scientists say. Rather, the pills delay ovulation, the release of eggs from ovaries that occurs before eggs are fertilized, and some pills also thicken cervical mucus so sperm have trouble swimming.
The article cites several studies:
Experts say implantation was likely placed on the label partly because daily birth control pills, some of which contain Plan B’s active ingredient, appear to alter the endometrium, the lining of the uterus into which fertilized eggs implant. Altering the endometrium has not been proven to interfere with implantation. But in any case, scientists say that unlike the accumulating doses of daily birth control pills, the one-shot dose in morning-after pills does not have time to affect the uterine lining.
“It takes time for an endometrium to change, for its cells to divide,” said Susan Wood, a biochemist who, shortly after Plan B’s approval became the F.D.A.’s top women’s health official and later resigned, frustrated with the delay in making the pill available without prescription.
Implantation also likely wound up on the label because of what Dr. Gemzell-Danielsson called wishful thinking by some scientists, who thought that if it could also block implantation, it would be even better at preventing pregnancy.
By 2002, studies produced evidence that Plan B did not interrupt implantation.
Abortion opponents were also becoming more vocal about emergency contraception. In 2005-6, when the F.D.A. reviewed Plan B, making it available without prescription for ages 17 and over, some opponents said it was an abortion-inducing drug. Plan B’s maker again asked that implantation be removed from the label.
Addressing the issue in a 2005 memorandum, Dr. Steven Galson, director of the F.D.A.’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, wrote that studies “conclusively demonstrate” that Plan B’s ability to block ovulation, is “responsible for most, if not all, instances in which emergency contraception prevents pregnancy.” But he also said that studies at that time could not exclude the possibility the pills impeded implantation “in a small percentage of women.” He declined a request to be interviewed.
By 2007, scientific consensus was building that morning-after pills did not block implantation. In one study using fertilized eggs that would have been discarded from fertility clinics, Dr. Gemzell-Danielsson found that adding Plan B in a dish did not prevent them from attaching to cells that line the uterus.
Later, in 2007, 2009 and 2010, researchers in Australia and Chile gave Plan B to women after determining with hormone tests which women had ovulated and which had not.
None who took the drug before ovulation became pregnant, underscoring how Plan B delays ovulation. Women who had ovulated became pregnant at the same rate as if they had taken no drug at all. In those cases, there were no difficulties with implantation, said one of the researchers, Gabriela Noé, at the Instituto Chileno de Medicina Reproductiva in Santiago. Dr. Blithe of the N.I.H., said, “No one can say that it works to inhibit implantation based on these data.”
Here's the question: Will those labels inside the morning-after pill boxes be changed or not? And if they won't be changed, why not? Could it be --- hmm --- ideological considerations?
Speaking of those:
Critics said they wondered if scientists and government agencies were debunking an implantation effect because they support abortion rights. Jonathan Imbody, vice president of government relations for the Christian Medical Association, wrote on LifeNews.com, that the fact sheets contradict Plan B’s abortion-inducing nature and raise questions about “whether ideological considerations are driving these decisions.”
Funny, that. I happen to think that "ideological considerations" are certainly driving the opposition to these decisions and "ideological considerations" are at the bottom of the abortion-causes-breast-cancer hoax! I did lots of research on the breast-cancer-hoax and the well-done studies on that are crystal-clear in disproving a causative link from abortion to increased rates of breast cancer.
Yet in some US states women who seek abortions must be told about a possible breast cancer risk. And in at least one case a rape victim was denied access to the morning-after pill in one hospital because of beliefs driven by the idea that the pill prevents implantation of the fertilized eggs.
Now that's what I call "ideological considerations" driving decisions, even when the scientific data proves otherwise.
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
Sometimes I'm astonished that I'm still fairly normal (well, as normal as a blogger pretending to be a snake goddess can be), given the places I go to read crap. But the other night I was short of reading for the bed and picked up a thirty-year-old biography of C.G. Jung. His opinions on women (at least as interpreted by Vincent Brome, the biographer) were, to use current terminology, very sexist.
This made me cheerful. The views he (and Freud with his theory of penis envy!) advanced on women would never fly today, never!
The cheer was because the world is changing, for the better, at least in some nooks and crannies (not including the comments sections of any articles about gender).
At the same time, it is frightening to think how easy sexism could be and still is and how smoothly Jung's subjective statements about women translated into something viewed as holy theory.
I see a reflection of this in the current EP (the anti-woman type of evolutionary psychology). One day, I hope, those writings will appear as preposterous to others as Jung's statements about the two types* of women (either mother/wife or a professional collaborator/sexual partner for the man) seem to me.**
All those theories -- Freudian, Jungian and EP -- share the pseudo-science aspect: They are not potentially falsifiable by actual experiments but defeat any such attempt.
*The list of types of women was later expanded by one of Jung's female collaborator to four.
**Though probably by then some brand-new way of keeping misogyny current in psychology will have been invented.
David Brooks' most recent column is priceless, priceless, I say. He begins as is his wont: By stating an assertion as a fact and by shrouding it in such Republican-speech that any meaning it might have has just become impossible to spot:
Every generation has an incentive to borrow money from the future to spend on itself. But, until ours, no generation of Americans has done it to the same extent. Why?
A huge reason is that earlier generations were insecure. They lived without modern medicine, without modern technology and without modern welfare states. They lived one illness, one drought and one recession away from catastrophe. They developed a moral abhorrence about things like excessive debt, which would further magnify their vulnerability.
Recently, life has become better and more secure. But the aversion to debt has diminished amid the progress. Credit card companies seduced people into borrowing more. Politicians found that they could buy votes with borrowed money. People became more comfortable with red ink.
Today we are living in an era of indebtedness. Over the past several years, society has oscillated ever more wildly though three debt-fueled bubbles. First, there was the dot-com bubble. Then, in 2008, the mortgage-finance bubble. Now, we are living in the fiscal bubble.
Note how actual economic and political facts are noticeable by their absence? All we are told is that people no longer fear dying in a debtor's prison and that's the reason for the dot-com and housing bubbles! A bit more suffering would do us all good! Except for the one percent, Brooks' own class.
Though given his arguments the rich should have always been borrowing far too much. After all, they didn't face that survival scarcity even in the golden olden days.
Those paragraphs make a mash out of many things. Private debt is mashed together with government spending, and the latter is equated with government debt. Debt is increasing only because too much is spent. What is completely absent in that quote are taxes: The reluctance of the rich to pay for the government expenditures. And although I'm not a historian I know that debt wasn't uncommon in the past though it was always more available for the wealthy than for the poor.
So. Brooks has explained to us that the federal deficit is the fault of our own bad habits but not the fault of our bad habits of not wanting to pay taxes. He then goes on to explain why he admires Scott Walker of Wisconsin, the governor with the worst job record of any governor last year, the governor who single-handedly is killing public unions and turning teaching into a minimum wage job.
Granted, Brooks would have preferred Walker not to reveal his allegiance to Sauron so very completely:
Today voters in Wisconsin go to the polls to decide whether to recall Gov. Scott Walker. I’m not a complete fan of the way Walker went about reducing debt. In an age of tough choices, one bedrock principle should be: We’re all in this together. If you are going to cut from the opposing party’s interest groups, you should also cut from some of your own. That’s how you build trust and sustain progress, one administration to the next.
Walker didn’t do that. He just sliced Democrats. But, in the real world, we don’t get to choose perfect test cases. And Walker did at least take on entrenched interest groups. He did turn a $3.6 billion deficit into a $150 million surplus, albeit with the help of a tax collection surge. He did make it possible for willing school districts to save money on health insurance so they could spend it on students.
Walker’s method was obnoxious, but if he is recalled that will send a broader message, with effects far beyond Wisconsin. It will be a signal that voters are, indeed, unwilling to tolerate tough decisions to reduce debt. In Washington and in state capitals, it will confirm the view that voters don’t really care about red ink. It will remove any hope this country might have of avoiding a fiscal catastrophe.
I love the term "entrenched interest groups!" Let's apply that to the CEOs of the financial industry. Let's apply that to the Catholic Church. Let's apply that to people like David Brooks, too!
I also love "fiscal catastrophe!" Brooks never worried about that during the eight years of reckless spending by one George Walker Bush.
But this is the very best part of the column, the part where the real Brooks shines through like a pearl:
A vote to keep Walker won’t be an antiunion vote. It will be a vote against any special interest that seeks to preserve exorbitant middle-class benefits at the expense of the public good.
"Exorbitant" middle class benefits? How can they be exorbitant and still keep the receivers only in the middle class? Brooks comes across as an Uncle Scrooge here, unwilling to have teachers and fire fighters and police officers retire without having to work as greeters at the nearest Walmart.
Indeed, he comes across as one of those who'd like the country to look like a Banana Republic.
Monday, June 04, 2012
The Catholic Church has gone after the uppity "radical feminist" nuns and it has gone after the Girl Scouts, too. This is beginning to look like a trend
Which began fifteen-or-so centuries ago, sigh.
Religion can be one of the three legs of the stool of women's oppression and it mostly has been. Indeed, the right to subjugate women might be the main attraction of the more extremist fundamentalist screeds to some of the faithful. This is so at least in Christianity, in Judaism, in Islam and in Hinduism.
The current religious wars against women are nasty. In Islam they aim to erase the existence of women outside the home. In Catholicism they produce heinous ethical judgements:
Declaring that "life must always be protected", a senior Vatican cleric has defended the Catholic Church's decision to excommunicate the mother and doctors of a nine-year-old rape victim who had a life-saving abortion in Brazil.
Cardinal Giovanni Batista Re, who heads the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, told reporters that although the girl fell pregnant after apparently being abused by her stepfather, her twins had, "the right to live, and could not be eliminated".
In an interview with the Italian newspaper, La Stampa, the cardinal added: "It is a sad case but the real problem is that the twins conceived were two innocent persons. Life must always be protected."
Even the President, Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva, has waded into the row. "As a Christian and a Catholic, I deeply regret that a bishop of the Catholic Church has such a conservative attitude," he said "The doctors did what had to be done: save the life of a girl of nine years old. In this case, the medical profession was more right than the Church."
The bolds are mine.
What drives this callousness in so many religions? The need to control the production of the next generation? The need to offer poor men something: The right to rule over their wives and daughters?
A New York Times article about a sex discrimination case in Silicon Valley opens with this paragraph:
MEN invented the Internet. And not just any men. Men with pocket protectors. Men who idolized Mr. Spock and cried when Steve Jobs died. Nerds. Geeks. Give them their due. Without men, we would never know what our friends were doing five minutes ago.
But are these men trapped in the past even as they create the future?
And history has been written! Now we know who invented the Internet. It was not the US government, it was not certain named individuals. It was the menz! With pocket protectors.
What an odd beginning for a piece about possible sexual harassment. It's almost as if the ground is laid to suggest that men have the right to sexually harass women if those women dare to enter their tree house! Almost as if the Internet belongs to men because they invented it and that should be taken into account in any discussion of a sexual harassment suit. Of course those men who were involved in the development of the Internet are not the men currently working in the firm the article discusses ("But are these men trapped in the past even as they create the future?")
Never mind that. Note how that quoted paragraph sweeps away all women who have ever worked in the field. Xeni Jardin's righteously angry response:
You guys, ladies suck at technology and the New York Times is ON IT.
Radia "Mother of the Internet" Perlman and the ghosts of RADM Grace Hopper, Ada Lovelace and every woman who worked in technology for the past 150 years frown upon you, sir. Women may have been invisible, but the work we did laid the groundwork for more visible advancements now credited to more famous men.
The creators of the Internet have been mostly male (in numbers) but not universally so. In any case, the inventors were specific individuals and the role of the US government was considerable in all that. But that's not the reason why that opening paragraph is a bit like being tickled in the belly with a dagger. It's what Jardin said in her rant:
You guys, ladies suck at technology and the New York Times is ON IT.
Add the stereotype threat to that and you see why it might be important not to sweep away every single vagina-human just to create a good feeling among the brotherhood of geeks.
Added later: More from Deanna and Soraya.
Sunday, June 03, 2012
When it comes to the so-called women's issues. Remember the war against caterpillars? This:
HUNT: Let me ask you this. The Democrats of course say you are waging, the GOP is waging a war on women. I know you don’t agree with that, but looking at the polls, you have a gender gap problem. Recent polls show a huge, huge margin for Democrats among women voters. How big a problem is it? How do you close it?
PRIEBUS: Well, for one thing, if the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars, and mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we have problems with caterpillars. The fact of the matter is it’s a fiction and this started a war against the Vatican that this president pursued. He still hasn’t answered Archbishop Dolan’s issues with Obama world and Obamacare, so I think that’s the first issue.
It was caterpillars then. Now it's shiny objects:
On Sunday, Fehrnstrom insisted that the Obama campaign strategy was not going to work.
“Mitt Romney is pro-life,” the senior adviser admitted to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “He’ll govern as a pro-life president, but you’re going to see the Democrats use all sorts of shiny objects to distract people’s attention from the Obama performance on the economy. This is not a social issue election.”
The bolds are mine.
And why do I love this? Because the Republican defense is so incredibly weak. Nope, they don't come out with righteous anger to tell us how hard the Republicans work for all Americans, including American women, or how well they understand the importance of equal rights or reproductive freedom in most women's lives. Nope.
They can't because their party is not about any of those things.
That leaves them with only one alternative: To imply that the issues affecting women are unimportant, nonexistent, trivial. The war against women is sorta like a war against caterpillars! Social issues, including the right of women to have equal lives, are "shiny objects!"
It's not the intention of people like Priebus and Fehrnstrom to imply that women and caterpillars belong to the same class of things or that women are like magpies, going after shiny objects to feather their nests with. But these guys allow such easy links to be made in fertile brains all over the Internet. Mmm.
John Stuart Mill (1806 –1873) was a British philosopher, economist, and civil servant, and the husband of Harriet Taylor Mill (née Harriet Hardy) (1807 –1858) who was a philosopher and women’s rights advocate.
Together (with their daughter Helen’s help after Harriet’s death) they wrote The Subjection of Women. Some scholars have supposed that John wrote it alone, but John himself credited his wife as co-author. It should also be noted that some of the book’s arguments are similar to those in Harriet Taylor Mill's essay The Enfranchisement of Women, which was published in 1851. The Subjection of Women was published in 1869, and made John one of the earliest male writers to write on the subject of women’s equality. The book promoted women’s suffrage, education for women, and the reform of marriage laws, all on the grounds of utilitarianism – in summary, the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
The Enfranchisement of Women can be read in English here.
The Subjection of Women can be read in English here.
Sarah Margaret Fuller Ossoli, commonly known as Margaret Fuller (1810 – 1850) was an American journalist, critic, and women's rights advocate.
Her book Woman in the Nineteenth Century, published in 1845, is considered the first major feminist work in the United States. Some scholars have suggested Woman in the Nineteenth Century was the first major women's rights work since Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792, beginning with a comparison between the two women made by Mary Ann Evans (pen name George Eliot) in her 1855 essay "Margaret Fuller and Mary Wollstonecraft.”
A shorter version of the Woman in the Nineteenth Century had been published in 1843 in serial form for the Transcendentalist magazine The Dial, which Fuller edited; it was then called "The Great Lawsuit: Man 'versus' Men, Woman 'versus' Women."
The book declared that marriage should be a union between two independent and self-sufficient individuals, rather than having the woman dependent on the man. Fuller thought that equality between men and women would enable them to share a divine and transcendental love.
Woman in the Nineteenth Century can be read in English here.
Camilla Collett (1813-1895) is often considered the first Norwegian feminist, and was one of the first realist writers in Norwegian literature.
Her most famous work is her only novel, Amtmandens Døtre (The District Governor's Daughters) which was published anonymously in two separate parts in 1854 and 1855. The book is considered one of the first political and social realist novels in Norway and deals with the difficulties of being a woman in a sexist society in general and forced marriages specifically. It is believed that her personal experiences in life, specifically her relationship with her brother’s literary opponent Welhaven, influenced the book. Both her father and her brother were opposed to this relationship, and it eventually ended.
After the writing of Amtmandens Døtre, Collett focused largely on reviews and essays about literature, making her the first feminist literary critic in Norway.
Her complete works can be read in Norwegian here.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815 –1902) was a leader of the women’s suffrage movement in America, as well as an advocate for divorce reform, birth control, women's parental and custody rights, women’s property rights, and women’s employment and income rights.
She was the main writer of the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, which was presented at the first American women's rights convention, held in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York.
It was based on the form of the Declaration of Independence, and caused much controversy, particularly with its support of women’s suffrage, which even many women’s rights supporters thought was too radical and would damage other causes such as women’s property rights.
Furthermore, her controversial publishing of The Woman's Bible in 1898 (a feminist criticism of the Bible, written by herself and a “Revising Committee”) alienated many religious suffragists, although criticism of sexism in the Bible would become more popular in the 1970s, when much of Stanton’s writing was rediscovered. Stanton declared in The Woman's Bible that the Bible "in its teachings degrades Women from Genesis to Revelations." However she and the other contributors found some things to admire in the Bible, particularly some of the women in the Old Testament.
The Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions can be read in English here.
The Woman's Bible can be read in English here.
Charlotte Brontë (1816 –1855) was an English novelist and poet, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived into adulthood, whose novels are classics of English literature. She published Jane Eyre in 1847 under the pen name Currer Bell. Jane Eyre, which tells the story of a governess who falls in love with her employer, is written in the first person, and is considered an influential feminist text because of its in-depth exploration of a strong female character's feelings. Jane’s insistence that she will continue to work as a governess even after she marries was also quite radically feminist for the time.
Jane Eyre can be read in English here.
Concepción Arenal (1820 –1893) was a Spanish feminist writer and activist. She is considered the founder of the feminist movement in Spain due to her writing, in works such as The Woman of the Future (1869), The Education of Women, The Current State of Women in Spain, The Work of Women, The Woman of the House (1883), The Woman With Prospects, and Domestic Service.
She herself accomplished many firsts for women, as she was the first woman in Spain to attend any university. She attended the Complutense University of Madrid, where she was forced to wear masculine attire. She also attended political and literary debates, unheard of at the time for a woman.
Her complete works can be read in Spanish here.
Henrik Ibsen (1828 –1906) was a famous Norwegian playwright, one of the founders of Modernism in theater. One of his major works, A Doll’s House (1879), is considered a feminist classic by many, although Ibsen himself declared that he "must disclaim the honor of having consciously worked for the women's rights movement," saying he wrote "without any conscious thought of making propaganda," but rather for "the description of humanity."
In any case, A Doll’s House is extremely critical of 19th century marriage norms, and was very controversial when it was first written. It ends with Nora leaving her husband in order to discover herself, although for the play’s debut in Germany Ibsen wrote an alternative ending where she stays, as the production's lead actress refused to play the part of Nora unless Ibsen changed the ending; Ibsen himself referred to this new ending as a “barbaric outrage.” However, in Norway the original ending was kept and every performance of its first run was sold out.
A Doll's House was based on the life of Laura Kieler (maiden name Laura Smith Petersen), who was a good friend of Ibsen. In real life, when Victor found out about Laura's secret loan, he divorced her and had her committed to an asylum, but two years later, she returned to her husband and children at his own request. She went on to become a well-known author, living to the age of 83. Ibsen wrote A Doll's House when Laura Kieler had been committed to the asylum; Laura had asked him to intervene at a crucial point in the scandal, but he did not.
A Doll's House can be read in English here.
Kate Chopin, born Katherine O'Flaherty (1850 –1904) was an American author of short stories and novels. She is considered by many to be a forerunner of feminist authors of the 20th century. Her short story "The Story of An Hour " (1894) is particularly remarkable in that it shows a woman made happy by her husband’s death due to the oppression of her marriage, a very daring statement for the time.
The Awakening (1899) is also a story of a woman made unhappy by her marriage, which features frank (for its time) depictions of female sexual desire, even outside of marriage. Reviews ranged from condemnation to praise, though the public reaction was almost completely opposed. She never published another novel, and had difficulties even publishing short stories, but The Awakening is now considered a landmark of feminist literature. Furthermore, Chopin was recognized as one of the leading writers of her time within a decade of her death.
The Story of An Hour can be read in English here.
The Awakening can be read in English here.
Olive Schreiner (1855 –1920) was a South African author (born in present-day Lesotho) and anti-war campaigner. She is best remembered today for her novel The Story of an African Farm (1883), which is considered one of the first feminist novels, and was a bestseller. There is little plot to the novel, which concerns the lives of three people from childhood through adulthood, and caused some controversy over its advocacy of free thought and feminism, and its frank portrayal of premarital sex, pregnancy outside of wedlock, and transvestitism.
The Story of an African Farm can be read in English here.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman (July 3, 1860 – August 17, 1935) was a prominent American sociologist, writer, and lecturer for social reform.
Her best remembered work today is her semi-autobiographical short story The Yellow Wallpaper (1892) which she wrote after a severe bout of postpartum psychosis. It concerns a woman who is confined to a room for three months for the sake of her health, and who becomes insane as a result; Gilman herself had endured the then-popular “rest cure” as a treatment for her post-partum psychosis, and felt she had come near to losing her own sanity. She sent Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, who had prescribed the rest cure for her, a copy of the story. She claimed he had changed his methods as a result of this, but in fact (possibly unknown to her) he had not.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote many other feminist works which have not been as popular as The Yellow Wallpaper. Her greatest work is often considered to be Women and Economics (1898), in which she described and opposed women’s financial dependence on men.
In order to end this, she was one of the first to support the professionalization of housework, to be done by housekeepers and cooks for money rather than by mothers for nothing. She also suggested cooperative kitchens in city apartment buildings where cooking would be shared rather than being the private chore of each family. However, she still insisted that motherhood was “the common duty and the common glory of womanhood,” and that women would choose “professions compatible with motherhood.”
Women and Economics received overwhelmingly positive reviews and caused Gilman to be considered the leading intellectual of the women’s movement. It was even compared favorably to The Subjection of Women. However, Gilman did not call herself a feminist, as she was very uncomfortable with the ideas of sexual liberation that had become an important part of feminist thought.
The Yellow Wallpaper can be read in English here.
Women and Economics can be read in English here.