My students are never more engaged than when they are outraged by the hypocrisy of the past. Plus, who doesn’t love a good story about a bad girl? So I decided to shape my US women’s history course around transgressive women. Each week is organized around historical terms used to denigrate women who in some ways deviated from the gender norms of the time. Readings and lessons will help students explore how bad girls are typically those women who seek lives fulfilled by experiences that subvert and/or challenge the power of men.
Since a number of friends expressed interest, here are the assigned readings. Suggestions for alternatives and additions welcome! Those sources marked (S) are secondary and those marked (P) are primary.
(S) Ann Little, “‘Insolent’ Squaws and ‘Unreasonable’ Masters: Indian Captivity and Family Life,” in Abraham in Arms: War and Gender in Colonial New England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania press, 2006), 92-126.
Heretics and Witches
(P) Selected images of Anne Hutchinson
(S) Ramon Gutierrez, “Women on Top: The Love Magic of the Indian Witches of New Mexico,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 16, no. 3 (Sept. 2007): 373-390.
(P) “Witchcraft Trial of Catherina Lujan, New Mexico (1708),” in Intimate Matters: Primary Sources for a History of Sexuality in America, ed. John D’Emilio and Estelle Freedman (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013), 11-13.
“Unattached Women” and Fornicators
(P) “Laws of Virginia (1643 and 1662),” in Through Women’s Eyes: An American History with Documents, ed. Ellen Carol DuBois and Lynn Dumenil (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016), 86-87.
(S) John D’Emilio and Estelle B. Freedman, “Family Life and the Regulation of Deviance,” in Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 15-38.
(P) Deborah Sampson, The Female Review: The Life of Deborah Sampson, The Female Soldier in the War of the Revolution, reprint (Tarrytown, NY: W. Abbatt, 1916).
(P) Phyllis Wheatley, “To His Excellency General Washington,” in Complete Writings (New York: Penguin Books, 2001).
Mammies, Jezebels, and Amazons
(S) Deborah Grey White, “Jezebel and Mammy: The Mythology of Female Slavery,” in Ar’n’t I A Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1999), 27-61.
(P) Harriet Jacobs, “The Trials of Girlhood,” in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), 27-30.
(P) Harriet Robinson, Loom and Spindle: Life among the Early Mill Girls (New York: TY Cromwell & Co., 1898).
Whores and Hermaphrodites
(S) Peggy Nagae, “Asian Women: Immigration and Citizenship in Oregon,” Oregon Historical Quarterly 113, no. 3 (Fall 2012): 334-359.
(P) Edward H. Clarke, “Miss D. and Miss E.,” in Early American Women: A Documentary History, 1600-1900, ed. Nancy Woloch (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1992), 445-448.
Rebel Women and Suffragettes
(P) Emma Goldman, Living My Life (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1931).
(S) Ellen Carol DuBois, “Working Women, Class Relations, and Suffrage Militance: Harriot Stanton Blatch, and the New York Woman Suffrage Movement, 1894-1909,” in One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Woman Suffrage Movement, ed. Marjorie Spruill Wheeler (Troutdale, OR: NewSage Press, 1995), 221-244.
Uppity Women and Public Threats
(P) “Ida B. Wells, Crusade for Justice (ca. 1892),” in Voices of Freedom: A Documentary History, Volume 2 (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2017), 64-69.
(S) Natalia Molina, “‘We Can No Longer Ignore the Problem of the Mexican”: Depression-Era Public Health Policies in Los Angeles,” in Fit to Be Citizens? Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879-1939 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006), 116-157.
“The Lost Sex” and Bad Mothers
(P) Del Martin, “President’s Message,” The Ladder 1, no. 1 (October 1956): 5.
(P) “Women Write Life and Look About the Kinsey Report, 1953,” in Major Problems in the History of American Sexuality, ed. Kathy Peiss (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002), 373-374.
(P) Betty Friedan, “The Mistaken Choice,” in The Feminine Mystique (New York: A Laurel Book, 1984), 182-205.
Vendidas and Ball Busters
(P) “SNCC Position Paper: Women in the Movement (1964),” in “Takin’ it to the Streets”: A Sixties Reader, Alexander Bloom and Wini Breines (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 38-40.
(P) Enriqueta Longauex y Vasquez, “The Mexican-American Woman (1970),” in “Takin’ it to the Streets”: A Sixties Reader, Alexander Bloom and Wini Breines (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 444-448.
(P) Emma Gee, Susan Fong, Diana Gong, Jean Quan, and Carolyn Yee, “Politics of the Interior (1971),” in “Takin’ it to the Streets”: A Sixties Reader, Alexander Bloom and Wini Breines (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 459-463.
(S) Jennifer Nelson, “Race, Class, and Sexuality: Reproductive rights and the Campaign for an Inclusive Feminism,” in Women of Color and the Reproductive Rights Movement (New York: New York University Press, 2003), 133-177.
(P) Radicalesbians, “Woman-Identified Woman,” from History is a Weapon, accessed 8.23.19, https://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/radicalesbianswoman.html
(P) Combahee River Collective, “Combahee River Collective Statement,” accessed 8.23.19, http://circuitous.org/scraps/combahee.html
Welfare Queens and Feminazis
(S) Priya Kandaswamy, “‘You trade in a man for the man’: Domestic Violence and the U.S. Welfare State,” in American Quarterly 62, no. 2 (June 2010): 253-277.
(P) Chelsea Rudman, “Feminazi: The History of Limbaugh’s Trademark Slur Against Women,” Media Matters for America, accessed 8.23.19, https://www.mediamatters.org/rush-limbaugh/feminazi-history-limbaughs-trademark-slur-against-women.
(P) “Riot Girl Manifesto,” from History is a Weapon, accessed 8.23.19, https://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/riotgrrrlmanifesto.html.