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Back to our regularly scheduled program this week with serious women!

This Week: Broken Silence

Illustration by Susan Coyne

No Story Untold: The Unmaking of Misogyny — with Gloria White Hammond, Mariamma Hammond, Danielle McGuire and Kate Manne. Listen today at 2pm or anytime on our website.

MM: No one can keep up with this one, and you could say the swirl and swarm (and sturm und drang) is creating effects and after effects that might be getting out ahead of where anyone has really thought them through, and some unifying ideas are missing. But the year is ending up back where it began in January — with a serious, exciting, passionate demonstration of power by women.

Our main contribution this week was providing some historical and philosophical context to this story. Danielle McGuire has written an important book that locates the heart of the civil rights movement in black women’s fight against sexual assault in Alabama in the 1940’s. Her book is called At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and Resistance-A New History of the Civil Rights Movement From Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power. Rosa Parks is the hero of McGuire’s book; her work organizing for women’s rights began more than a decade before the Montgomery bus boycott. Danielle McGuire says the civil rights story isn’t quite the one you learned from your school textbooks; women have been written out of it, as they have in so many stories.

I for one missed the women’s story in another familiar book. Philosopher Kate Manne schooled us on Shel Silverstein’s children’s book, The Giving Tree, to make her larger point about the “logic” of misogyny — that misogyny isn’t hatred of women so much as a structural system that’s organized around a man’s world.

So for those listeners who aren’t familiar — as I wasn’t being Australian — this tree whose gender is.. well she’s a female tree for reasons that will become apparent. She loves the boy more than she loves herself and she gives him everything: her apple, her branches, her leaves.She becomes in the end this amputated stump. She says sorry like 11 times throughout the children’s book and he never says a word of thanks. So he grows up to be this manchild. And basically I think that the logic of misogyny enforces a structure where women are encouraged to be giving trees or giving shes with respect to dominant and otherwise privileged men in their vicinity. And punishes them when they refuse to or fail to or appear to build the kind of enforcement.

Let’s make it the Giving Tree a he and how about the girl gets everything. If it’s not gender, it shouldn’t be a problem, you know but the fact that it is such an off the wall suggestion says a lot about the fact that yes, this is a very gendered dynamic she gives and gives and gives and he takes. And you see through other dynamics what happens when she refuses to which is terrible violence or sexual harassment sexual assault belittling condescension mansplaining just ways in which women are put down shut down shut up and shot down for not adhering to those feminine coded social roles.…Misogyny is something women face because they’re women in a man’s world, historically a patriarchy, rather than being hated because they represent the woman in a man’s mind. I mean frankly if she’s a good giving tree what’s not to like.

Our listeners—and Chris’ daughters—are more woke to the story than I was (I never realized the tree was a woman), but I learned a lot from listening to Kate Manne. Here’s a longer excerpt of the interview, and write us if you’d like to see a full transcript. Her new book is called Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny.

Becca DeGregorio: There were more interviews we couldn’t get on the air this week, including a chat we had with Sarah Leonard, the senior features editor at The Nation and one of our favorite feminist writers. We spoke with Sarah about her recent op ed in the NYT, “How to Stop the Predators who Aren’t Famous.” Listen below for an excerpt of the conversation, and subscribe to our Patreon to hear the whole thing later this week!

Speaking of feminist union research, meet Susan Moir. She’s the director of research at UMass Boston’s Labor Resource Center, where she’s working with the Policy Group on Tradeswomen’s Issues (PGTI) to increase the number of female workers in the construction industry in the state of Massachusetts.

The construction industry is a notoriously gender-segregated occupation with women only making up 2% of it nationally, but in Boston there’s virtually no gap between unionized tradesmen and tradeswomen in the field. Her work has already led to a roughly 5% increase in women in construction around the state. Susan also told us that unionization around Boston has lead to a culture of zero tolerance of sexual misconduct. In other words, if someone whistles at you from a construction site in this city, or harasses a fellow female builder, something will actually be done about it, she told us. Here’s a recent piece recognizing Susan’s accomplishments so far: UMass Boston Construction Pact: A Model for Workforce Diversity.

Tarana Burke, founder of the MeToo movement well before hashtags were a thing.

We also thought we’d give an extra special shoutout to a woman we’ve been trying to get on the show for weeks: Tarana Burke, the activist who started the ‘Me Too’ campaign back in 2006 as a way for survivors of sexual assault to connect with one another. She’s back in the headlines this week, with Time Magazine naming her, alongside other ‘Silence Breakers’ (such as Rose McGowan, Alyssa Milano and other anonymous women) who came forward this fall with their stories of sexual mistreatment and harassment.

There’s been a flurry of conversation surrounding the nature of Time’s decision here, much of it concerning the magazine’s cover image which doesn’t even feature Burke (but does include Taylor Swift). That said, this young producer (still Becca here) would like to encourage you to read up on the woman who came up with the brave phrase that launched this movement straight through the heart of 2017. Start with this interview in Elle: ‘Empowerment Through Empathy’ — We Spoke To Tarana Burke, The Woman Who Really Started The ‘Me Too’ Movement

The Artist’s Corner

Susan Coyne: I saw the writer Carmen Maria Machado at Harvard Book Store on December 6th, author of Her Body and Other Parties. Machado read from her short story “The Husband Stitch” about a woman who never takes off a ribbon around her neck. If you grew up reading Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, you might expect the story to involve something in the way of decapitation, but while conjuring a very strange narrative mood, the story seemed to focus much more on the teenage woman’s sexual awakening. After her reading, Machado talked about taking a six-week, six-story crash course in science fiction writing directly after graduating from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. (A few of the stories she wrote in those weeks are included in this collection). She also dove into her deep love of haunted houses and her failed attempt to join the Halloween team at her favorite haunted house in Philadelphia. Her Body has been topping Best of 2017 lists everywhere I look, and I can’t wait to finally open the book myself.

Consolation:

Even in Kaffaesque times, the writer Annie Proulx tells us there’s some hope for a happy ending. Chris sent us this video which went viral this week:

Coming Up: Daniel Ellsberg on our Nuclear World

We’ll be back next week with Daniel Ellsberg and his new book about nuclear weapons. The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.

Finally, there is some good news in the world. We have new t-shirts!

Two new designs. Join our Patreon community and show the OS and HDT flags. More and better premiums this year, including cool stuff from the mega talented Susan Coyne. Visit her website as well for a sample of prints she’s made for us and for others. You’ll be the talk of the town if you have a Coyne original! We have the best staff in radio, folks, please help support them!

Stay warm,

The OS Icicles

A wintery Boston scene shot by our favorite local photographer, Michael Lutch

An American conversation with global attitude, on the arts, humanities, and global affairs, hosted by Christopher Lydon. chris@radioopensource.org