Lynn Sherr’s Commencement Speech/ Wellesley College/ May 28, 2010

Kim – President Bottomly – very distinguished faculty, trustees, staff, sister alums, loving parents and grandparents and families and all the friends who made all of this possible today, and above all, beautiful, bubbly members of the Royal Purple class of 2010. Congratulations! I’ve even written my speech on purple paper today.

Thank you for inviting me to your party. Thank you for letting me pretend I’m still here. And really, above all, thank you for showing me what the Scream Tunnel sounds like!

I celebrate your accomplishments and I share every tingle of excitement. This day is beyond special in your lives, and I am honored to help welcome you out into the wide, wide world. Regrettably, I do not stand here to guarantee you a job; I can, however, guarantee lunch. Never underestimate lunch.

I also stand here as living, breathing proof that Wellesley does indeed open the doors to the planet. Most of those doors were, in fact, barred to women when I graduated from Wellesley in 1963 – another century, another era, even another color. I was a mellow yellow girl. Golden, if you pushed. Which my generation had to do. As women – or “girls,” they called us – we were not invited to participate in the working world except at the lowest levels. But thanks to the knowledge we gained and the courage we inhaled on this campus, we figured it out. We smashed the barriers so that you – every one of you – can now walk into any doorway that you want. That’s the way it works. Pay it forward, when you’re ready to do the same. Continue reading “Lynn Sherr’s Commencement Speech/ Wellesley College/ May 28, 2010”

In the wake of International Women’s Day…

“Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights”– Hillary Clinton

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said her government would repeal the laws discriminatory to women and soon make the National Women Development Policy effective.

Could include:

– female empowerment

– re-defining the laws surrounding woman’s property rights.

– education

– employment

The prime minister urged mothers to give equal attention to their sons and daughters since discrimination sparks from within the family.


According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Bangladesh ranked 67th in terms of female participation in politics, surpassing neighboring India (99th).Pakistan ranked at 50th.



Reading list for International Women’s Day, click here.

Includes: The Widsom of Whores, by Elizabeth Pisani, Dividing Citizens: Gender And Federalism In New Deal Public Policy by Suzanne Mettler, and Counting for Nothing by Marilyn Waring.


The Colors of Warka: Paintings by Iraqi Women– US State Department

Continue reading “In the wake of International Women’s Day…”

Barbie Dolls in Burqa Presented in Italy’s Barbie Fashion Show

Yet again, the problem with this:

– calling it “Islamic” and/ or “Islamic fashion” leads to a false image of what Islamic clothing is. There is no Islamic fashion or Islamic dress. This is another case of confusing religion with culture, and not allowing it to be de-linked. Burka, while traditional in certain regions of the world, is not something that symbolizes Islam, a religion that spreads around the globe and includes many elasticities. This is not to say that burqa should be dismissed. Rather, it is a cultural aspect of many societies, worn by many women out of choice rather than force. What I have a problem with is the labeling- by calling it “Islamic fashion” only enforces stereotypes of Muslim women to be one-dimentional.

Article here.

Freitag: Parastou Forouhar


In a culture of concealment, the significance of the visible is heightened. The fragments of the body that can be shown symbolically represent all that cannot be shown and cannot be said. This makes them eloquent and multivalent.

Friday …it is also a day on which the long Friday prayers and sermons, so important to Islamists, are held at the mosque. A day when morality and order are invoked and defined, when the mullahs of Iran often speak to crowds of thousands, who then chant their propaganda slogans. Rhythmically, ecstatically.

By Parastou Forouhar


Bananas, Beaches, and Bases by Cynthia Enloe

Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics

~ Cynthia Enloe, University of California Press (January 11, 1990)

Enloe both excited me and frustrated me with her analysis on women in international politics. To me, her victimization of women made it seem like we are almost hopeless, and her goal of greater participation unattainable. There are indeed gender inequalities in this world, but I wonder how much a women leader can do if she is to always think about her gender and putting that in the place of making political decisions.

I was also sometimes confused about what message she was trying to get out- for greater equality of women as a gender, in general? Or for greater female participation in international politics, specifically? I was not convinced that both could take place at the same time from her observations.

Key ideas:

– We risk of being “globally naïve” if we do not see that Masculinity and femininity are definitely politicized, and that women’s experience needs to be taken seriously in international politics.

–  Relations between governments depend not only on capital and weaponry, but also on the control of women as symbols, consumers, workers and emotional comforters. –xvii

– A danger in this discussion for change is only seeing women from the developing world when discussing women in international relations.

–   Making feminist sense of international politics may compel us to dismantle the wall that often separates theory from practice- 201

Enloe discusses issues like sex tourism and Hollywood where women are continuously used, abused, and left in the shadows. When she asked why it is women that are used in sex tourism in Southeast Asia, I asked, why aren’t women the ones to be the head of crime circles? Why aren’t women more violent and commit frauds and lead states into wars? Maybe then we can be taken more “seriously” as Enloe wants.

I wonder, if women were the ones to be modern pirates and dictators, is that considered choosing their “feminist aspirations” (64) or in general, basic human aspirations? If other women looked at these types of leaders with admiration, is that violating their nationalist aspirations for feminist aspirations? Would it help women’s sense of security?

(October 7, 2009: For Sociology class)