Towson University Women's Studies

CFP–motherhood & mothering
August 12, 2010, 7:42 am
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Below is a call for papers for the International Conference on Motherhood Activism, Advocacy, Agency which will be held in Toronto next May.

250-word abstracts and 50-word bios should be sent to by October 1, 2010


Grounded in a long history, in which women activists, writers, and feminists focused much effort on strengthening the social, personal, and political power of mothers, current motherhood research and activism makes maternal empowerment one of the major goals of its work. Contemporary examinations and deployments of women’s power as mothers-and mothers’ power as women-seek to grant women greater authority, resources, and status so that they can adequately care for their children while living full and purposeful lives. The aim of this conference is to explore activism, advocacy, and agency by and on behalf of mothers from a variety of perspectives and in a multitude of contexts.

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Feminist Porn?
August 2, 2010, 12:38 pm
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Our Porn, Ourselves ( is a pro-porn blog that we recently discovered. The authors of this site argue that women watch and enjoy porn, and we shouldn’t feel shamed or guilty about it. They argue that identification as a feminist does not require one to be anti-porn. Our Porn, Ourselves‘ pro-porn perspective is a welcome addition to the obscenity/porn debates. They give readers current news, economic analyses, and access to activism opportunities.

Gail Dines is one of Our Porn, Ourselves‘ main targets. Dines is perhaps the most well-known anti-porn feminist, and has led the way in anti-porn activism. Dines will be coming to Towson next spring to talk about her new book, Pornland: How Porn Has Highjacked Our Sexuality. In Pornland, Dines claims that “rather than sexually liberating or empowering us, porn offers us a plasticized, formulaic, generic version of sex that is boring, lacking in creativity and disconnected from emotion and intimacy” (

The bloggers at Our Porn, Ourselves differentiate between anti-porn and anti-sex and give readers excellent counters to Dines’ critiques of porn culture. Sex educator Charlie Glickman is quoted on the blog. Glickman writes about the differences between anti-porn and anti-sex, arguing that although these two perspectives are often conflated, they do not have to be one and the same:

So why do I think that Dines’ strategies are sex-negative? Because she deliberately works to trigger disgust about a sexual practice in order to manipulate people into rallying to her call. Rather than opening up a dialogue about the real reasons that some porn is problematic or asking how the performers on the site feel about their experiences, she uses tactics that depend on and deepen sexual shame in order to sway people to her point of view. And that makes them sex-negative. Facefucking is not inherently abusive, violent, or misogynistic any more than intercourse is inherently respectful, pleasurable, or egalitarian. As with any sexual act, it’s a question of whether you want to do it, how you do it, and how you feel about it during it and afterward. When Dines makes it sound otherwise, she reinforces sex-negativity. It doesn’t really matter whether she deliberately chose this strategy or happened to discover its effectiveness by accident. (emphasis added)

I believe that Our Porn, Ourselves is a great challenge to Dines’ arguments, and gives readers access to an alternative viewpoint. As we prepare for Dines’ visit to Towson next March, we’ll be keeping you posted from both sides of the porn wars, and hope to encourage some  discussion around the issue.

19th Annual USM Women’s Forum Conference
July 20, 2010, 12:43 pm
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Mark your calendars to join us for the 19th Annual USM Women’s Forum Conference!

This year’s conference, Beyond Sisterhood – Enlightened Women of the 21st Century, will be held at UMUC Friday, October 22, 2010. The event features lunchtime mentoring sessions, designated tracks for staff and faculty, a special after-hours onsite networking event, and much more!

Register by October 1, 2010 for the discounted rate of $65 (prices increase to $75 after October 1).

Book lodging (onsite through Marriott) by September 17, 2010 to reserve the special USMWF discounted rate of $109/night.

Visit us online at for additional conference information, including registration forms and lodging reservations

Call for Papers–Mothers and the Economy: The Economics of Mothering Conference
July 14, 2010, 12:47 pm
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Here is a CFP for a conference being held October 21-23, 2010, in Toronto, Canada. Abstracts (250 words) and bios (50 words) are due by AUGUST 1st, 2010. Send abstracts to Submissions are welcomed from scholars, students, activists, and workers, artists, mothers and others who work or research in this area. Cross-cultural, historical and comparative work is encouraged. We encourage a variety of types of submissions including academic papers from all disciplines, workshops, creative submissions, performances, storytelling, visual arts and other alternative formats.

One must be a member of Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (MIRCI) to present at this conference. Membership will begin May 1, 2010.

 Topics can include (but are not limited to):

the economics of maintaining sustainable family systems; mothering, appropriate technology and economics; mothering and microcredit; mothering and economic activism; mothering and economic activism through the arts; mothering with reduced resources; social and economic supports for mothering; mothering within the neoliberal context; motherwork and valuation of motherwork, mothering and the economics of unpaid labour; mothers-as-providers, mother-led cooperatives; the effects of privatization/commodification on women; mothering and the economics of raising children with disabilities; the economics of maternal mortality rates; the “selling” of mothering and the economics of consumerism;  consumption and the marketing of mothering; the economics of reproductive technologies and surrogacy; structural adjustment policies and mothering; the financial implications for mothers of family law reforms and welfare state developments, the economic impacts of environmental degradation on mothering; quantifications of mothering/caregiving/parenting as a part of the base structure of the economic productivity of society; children as economic assets/burdens; the actual value of domestic/unpaid labour; motherhood and the gender pay gap, mothering and the feminization of poverty; mothering, occupational segregation and the wage gap; the impacts of economic globalization on mothering and kinship networks; the envisioning and articulation of more human-centered economic systems and policies to enhance mothering/caregiving practices; Continue reading

The Gender Pay Gap
July 14, 2010, 12:41 pm
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Here is the link for an article about the gender pay gap. According to the article,

“The pay gap is much more than an abstract number: it has very real consequences for the women it affects. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, a female college graduate will lose $1.2 million over the course of her working life as a result of the gender wage gap (and the total jumps to $2 million for professional school graduates) (2009). Women invest in higher education in part to avoid such shortfalls (and to build the closely related capital of skills, intellect, and experience). Just imagine what their investments could be with $1.2 million more to spare. Higher education should invest in turn in making sure women’s equity exists within and beyond its gates.

Any comments/discussion about higher education and the pay gap? The author suggests that “higher education should invest…in making sure women’s equity exits within and beyond its gates.” How can higher education do that? How can institutions work to end the gender pay gap, aside from practicing equity “within…its gates”?

Fall 2010 Course Offerings–Undergraduate
July 14, 2010, 12:08 pm
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This fall, we are offering the following undergraduate coures.

Women in Perspective–An examination of the status of women and women’s attempts to achieve economic, legal and social equality and physical integrity in the past and today with an emphasis on U.S. women. The focus is on both the commonalities and the diversity of women’s experience. Topics covered include marriage, motherhood, education, jobs and sexuality, with attention to race and class.

International Perspectives on Women–Interdisciplinary examination of women’s status and activism worldwide, including regional and local comparisons. Roles of governments and international organizations in shaping women’s experiences.

American Women and Popular Culture–Interdisciplinary examination of representations of women, femininity, and masculinity in contemporary American popular culture, using gender to apply critical analysis to film, literature, television, and music, including diverse responses of feminist artists and alternative media. This course will provide students with the critical tools to study women and gender in contemporary American culture by focusing on both heavily marketed, commercial products (television shows, movies, and the music industry) and alternate, less commercial popular culture forms (alternate music, “indie” films, activist art, exceptional television women, “chick lit,” and feminist magazines and “zines”).

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