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2011 Issue by Letha Dawson Scanzoni

Letha Dawson ScanzoniWeb Explorations for Christian Feminists is a quarterly digest of annotated links, leading to websites and webpages where you can read articles, listen to audio podcasts, watch videos, or preview movie trailers.

Philosophy Behind the Selections

I believe that we who describe ourselves as Christian feminists have a responsibility before God to continually expand our knowledge of the world and the times in which we live, including relating to (and working with) our sisters and brothers of other faiths or no faith, while together seeking justice, practicing compassion, and demonstrating neighbor-love to all people. Availing ourselves of the rich resources on the Internet can help us do that.

Scrolling through the List

I hope you’ll take some time to scroll through the list of links below and read the short descriptions I’ve provided. Click on any links that immediately grab your attention. Skip the ones that don’t. I hope you’ll come back later and click on some of the other links you couldn’t take the time to read earlier. (But please keep in mind that EEWC-CFT can’t be responsible for any content in the links outside our website.)

Annotated Links for This Edition

Since March is Women’s History Month we want to especially honor women’s accomplishments from the past as well as the challenges faced by women today as they continue to make history. These links are the ones listed first.

Video. Elizabeth Blackwell, First Female Physician (song) 
Listen to this catchy song for kids by Jonathan Sprout. Thanks to EEWC-CFT member Georgean Johnson-Coffey for the link.

Thoughts on 2011 Observance of International Women’s Day 
Arianna Huffington, Queen Noor, Eve Ensler, Marian Wright Edelman, Marlo Thomas, and others share their thoughts about International Women’s Day on March 8. Quotes from other well-known women are also provided here.

Recognition for scientist Gertrude Neumark Rothschild (Obituary from the New York Times.) 
When you use your cellphone, flat screen television, and other electronics, you can thank this woman for the vast improvements brought about through her research on light-emitting and laser diodes. You’ll also admire her courage and perseverance in seeking justice after major electronic companies infringed on her patents. She said she just wanted credit for her work and also “to show that women can do science.” Gertrude Neumark Rothschild died a few months ago at age 83.

Movie to watch for: Made in Dagenham
A true story of women striving – and striking – for gender equity in pay. If the film doesn’t come to a theater in your area, rent the DVD, scheduled to be available in late March, 2011. See also Roger Ebert’s review of the movie.

Image of Girls and Women in movies 
Film star Geena Davis founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media because “kids need to see entertainment where females are valued as much as males.”

Pop Culture, Reality TV, and Feminism 
From On the Issues magazine. “Power imbalances in heterosexual relationships are codified in relationship shows,” writes Jennifer Pozner in her critique titled, “Reality TV (Re) Rewrites Gender Roles.”

Video1964 educational Film on “Psychological Differences between the Sexes” 
This film, just under 13 minutes long, was used to teach what gender role expectations were in the 1960s. It provides an example of the repressive social climate at the time when second wave feminism was just beginning to awaken. Thanks to Steve Scanzoni for sending the link.

Orthodox Jewish woman wins inheritance case from Women’s eNews 
This article reminded me of the argument the daughters of Zelophehad brought to Moses in Numbers 27:1-11 (although in the biblical story, a heavy emphasis on the overall male privilege in inheritance laws remained in spite of these daughters’ small victory).

Julie Ingersoll Describes 2010 as “A Banner Year for Biblical Patriarchy” 
Julie IIngersoll, an author, columnist, and religion professor, provides disturbing evidence of the increased embracing of “Christian Reconstructionism” in some religious and political circles and the dangers it poses for women – and for freedom in general. The Stay-at-Home Daughters Movement is one part of this campaign.

The Constitution, the Bible, and the Fundamentalist-Modernist Divide 
Have you noticed how some some people claim to know the original “one true meaning” and intent of every phrase in the U.S. Constitution and how this way of viewing the constitution mirrors the way some people read, interpret, and apply the Bible for today? Julie Insgersoll has some thoughts about this.

A wise answer by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 
This comes from Feministing, the website for young feminists. It calls attention to the fact that the media too often focus on women’s clothes more than their ideas.

“Pretty” 
Katie Makkai, from the National Poetry Slam speaks out against the emphasis on physical attractiveness and the extremes to which women go as they strive to achieve our society’s image of beauty. Thanks to EEWC-CFT member Marg Herder for sending this link.

Anorexic model Isabelle Caro dies at age 28 
From Feministing comes this essay about the damage to girls and women by the fashion industry’s insistence on ultra thin models. Physical and psychological damage occurs “Because in this culture, sickness is beautiful. In this culture, anguish is profit,” writes Feministing contributor Chole. “In this culture, a woman is never thin enough. Not even when she’s starving to death.”

“Girls and boys together” by Gail Collins 
New York Times columnist Gail Collins has some thoughts about women’s employment, women’s earnings, and the balancing of work and family as an issue for both women and men. Her comments drew upon statistical information from the newly released U. S.Government publication, “Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being”

Why Feminism Was Good for Heterosexual Marriage 
From Salon. An interview with Stephanie Coontz about her new book, A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s.

The problematic generic “he.” It all started with a feminist! 
Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman, who produce the Grammarphobia blog, point out that, for some people today, the need for an all purpose gender-neutral pronoun is greater than ever because tweets on Twitter are limited to 140 characters and “he or she” and “he/she” constructions take up too much space. According to these authors, the English language used to employ such a gender neutral third-person pronoun (and strict grammarians may be surprised to learn what it was). But that changed when an 18th century educator and entrepreneur decided to make generic male pronouns the standard instead. And (gasp!) that educator, business person, and rule changer was a woman – and one who believed in education and opportunities for women!

Catholics await gender-neutral liturgy from Women’s eNews 
Priests and nuns who want to use gender inclusive language in prayer books and other religious texts have to do so on their own, with no encouragement from the church hierarchy.

Leora Tanebaum on female rabbis in Orthodox Judaism 
“In liberal Jewish synagogues across the country, women have achieved feminist success. They wear ritual garments. They read from the Torah. They are rabbis.” writes Leora Tanenbaum. “But when you enter an Orthodox Jewish synagogue, you enter a gender time warp.” Leora is the author of Taking Back God: American Women Rising Up for Religious Equality, in which she included a chapter about the work of EEWC-Christian Feminism Today after attending our 2006 EEWC Conference in Charlotte, NC.

Video“Save a Life” video from FaithTrust Institute 
This two-and-a-half minute video produced by the Faith Trust Institute speaks out against sexual abuse and domestic violence and features a song written and sung by Jewish singer-songwriter Debby Friedman, who died recently. You can read the memorial written by Faith Trust Institute founder Marie Fortune here.

Tussling over Jesus 
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff writes, “The National Women’s Law Center has just issued a report quoting doctors at Catholic-affiliated hospitals as saying that sometimes they are forced by church doctrine to provide substandard care to women with miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies in ways that can leave the women infertile or even endanger their lives.” Read what Kristoff sees as “two rival religious approaches, within the Catholic church and any spiritual tradition.”

Gender differences in who gives up sleep to care for others 
Can you guess which sex is more likely to give up sleep to care for others? Read what a new study found out.

War, Rape, and Journalists 
In this op-ed piece from the New York Times, journalist Kim Barker comments on the discussions that ensued after CBS correspondent Lara Logan was brutally beaten and raped by a mob during the uprising in Egypt. One of the most disturbing aspects of some discussions has been the tendency to blame the victim.

Some thoughts on why young people are leaving churches 
A recent poll by the Bama group shows that “In a single generation, the Christian church dropout rate has increased fivefold.” Rev. Howard Bess suggests three main reasons that persons under 30 especially are likely to be among those who express no interest in attending church. They are reasons worth examining.

Twitter discussions on Heaven,Hell, and Universalism 
This article by Rachel Held Evans in the Washington Post spotlights the discussion about heaven and hell taking place on Twitter and elsewhere since word got out about Pastor Rob Bell’s new book,Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, published in March, 2011. See this video on the HarperOne website and see what the controversy is all about. Check out this article in the New York Times, too.

What Risk Would You Take to Embrace Your Calling? 
Like Abraham and Sarah, “all of us at some time or another are confronted by a calling to step out of our comfort zones into the unknown in order to thrive,” writes Peter Wallace.

Video. Rosemary Radford Ruether speaks out on mental illness 
In this short video, theologian Rosemary Ruether talks about her new book, Many Forms of Madness: A Family’s Struggle with Mental Illness and the Mental Health System, in which she tells of the challenges faced by her family in the 30 years since her son was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Michael Rowe tells how faith is “murdered” 
When author Anne Rice announced that she was “quitting Christianity” while remaining committed to Christ, she was being “more of a Christian than she ever was. “ writes Michael Rowe. His article contains some powerful paragraphs about concrete ways faith is “murdered” by hatred and bigotry that all too often goes on in the name of Christianity, contradicting all that Jesus taught and stood for.

Jay Bakker on LGBT issues 
In discussing her interview with the 35-year-old son of PTL founders Jim and Tammy Baker, journalist Cathleen Falsini says this: “Most provocatively, Bakker makes the case that homosexuality is neither a sin nor incompatible with an authentic and robust life of faith.” Jay Bakker is now a minister with a special outreach to persons often marginalized and rejected by many churches, those whom Jesus spoke of as “the least of these.”

Recommended DVD. Prayers for Bobby
This made-for-television film is now on DVD. It’s the true story of a Christian woman who couldn’t accept her son because he was gay. After his suicide, this grieving mother became one of today’s most ardent supporters and activists, speaking out for the LGBTQ community. Sigourney Weaver plays Mary Griffith, the mom.

Transgender judge sworn in 
From the Feministing website comes this news item about Victoria Kolakowski, a transgender woman who was elected to be a superior court judge in Alameda County, California. The news reporter calls her “the first out trans person to become a judge in the US.”

Stephanie Coontz on Gay Marriage 
“If gay marriage is legally recognized in this country, it will have little impact on the institution of marriage,” writes family historian Stephanie Coontz.”In fact,” she continues, “the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage…is a symptom, rather than a cause, of the profound revolutions in marriage that have already taken place.” This article from the Washington Post is a quick overview of changes in the marital relationship over time, spelled out in more detail in Coontz’s 2005 book, Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage.

Ten Myths about single people 
Bella DePaulo, who writes the “Living Single” blog for Psychology Today refutes ten myths about single people and single lifestyles. In all her posts, DePaulo emphasizes the happy, fulfilled lives that many single people (including widowed and divorced persons) can and do live, in spite of society’s pressures for everyone to be coupled, married, or married again.

VideosFree Talks that stretch your mind. The TED website 
Description from the website: “TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. “ Here are some examples of talks you might want to watch and listen to online. Part of the TED challenge is that each speaker should aim to make her or his talk no longer than 18 minutes in length, and many are shorter.

Video. “A Call to Men.” TED talk by Tony Porter 
Tony Porter, co-founder of an organization named “A Call to Men: The National Association of Men and Women Committed to Ending Violence Against Women,” talks about the socialization of boys (which he describes as living in “the man box”).

Video. Reaching out to the Other 
Elizabeth Lesser is concerned about the divisiveness in our society and suggests that we find ways to “counteract the tendency to ‘otherize.’” She suggests an initiative called, “Take the Other to Lunch,” and provides some questions to promote listening, empathy, and civil discourse. Take some time to listen to this TED talk, under 12 minutes.

Video. Cultivating Moral Humility 
In his TED talk, “On the Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives,” Psychologist Jonathan Haidt discusses how five basic moral values enter into our political views.

Video. What adults can learn from kids (Adora Svitak) 
This 12-year-old short story writer and blogger shares some answers and opinions about what kids can teach adults.

Video. Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity 
Often using humor to make his points, Robinson shows how crucial it is to cultivate creativity and imagination in children.

Video. Courtney Martin: Reinventing Feminism 
Thirty-year old feminist Courtney Martin is an editor of Feministing and author of books and articles that have been reviewed in Christian Feminism Today or mentioned in previous editions of “Web Explorations.” In this talk, she tells what she sees as both differences and commonalities as she compares the feminism of her generation with the feminism of the1960s, ‘70s, and 80s.

Courtney Martin on “Making Good on the Girl Effect”
Writing for the online edition of The American Prospect, Courtney Martin reminds us that although “we’ve seen an unprecedented growth in public awareness and acceptance of the notion that the most effective way to change the world is by investing in its most overlooked and oppressed people: girls and women,” we need more effort to put this awareness into action.

Film to watch for: Higher Ground.
This new movie was featured at the Sundance Film Festival, and it was recently announced that Sony Pictures will be its distributor. It is based on the 2002 memoir, This Dark World: A Memoir of Salvation Found and Lost, by Carolyn S. Briggs. You can read a review of the book on Salon. Even though I haven’t yet seen the film, I’m guessing it will resonate especially with Christian feminists from fundamentalist backgrounds. Note this line from Edward Douglas’s Sundance film review (see top link): “The church’s edict that women should be seen and not heard is what begins to conflict with Corinne’s once independent spirit and ultimately, it’s what starts her thinking maybe the church isn’t for her.” He summarizes the movie’s theme as the story of “a woman trying to find God without losing herself.”

Text for online reading, plus audio. What love can do: An inspiring story 
When an art student, who was hearing impaired, was hit by a truck, gravely injured (including loss of her vision), seemingly unresponsive, and destined for a far away nursing home with no hope of recovery, her boyfriend refused to believe the doctors. Although there were no outward signs, he was convinced that she could respond and would be able to participate in a rehabilitation program. He was determined to find some way that she and he could communicate. Read and listen to this remarkable podcast about “Finding Emilie”. From RadioLab.

Coauthoring “All We’re Meant to Be” 
Finally, at the risk of seeming to be shamelessly self-promoting, I want to call your attention to something related to the history of Christian feminism that I have been writing in serial form for my personal blog. It’s the story behind the 1974 book I coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty, All We’re Meant to Be: A Biblical Approach to Women’s Liberation. So far, I have posted four installments of the backstory of this book – a book that is often credited as being a major impetus for the biblical feminist movement and the beginnings of EEWC. Since this is Women’s History Month, I hope you’ll visit the site, which includes excerpts from some of Nancy’s and my correspondence. We were writing the book during a time when distinct, limited, and rigid gender roles were expected in the family, the workforce, religious institutions, and society overall; and working for gender equality wasn’t easy.

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That’s all for this edition of Web Explorations. I’ll be back with more links and commentary in the late spring or summer. As you can see, you never know what you’re going to find here! So tell your friends to visit, too.

Your Web Explorations Guide
Letha Dawson Scanzoni