Sunday, December 1, 2019

Marilyn Yalom, Feminist Author and Historian, Is Dead at 87

In books about the history of wives, the history of the breast and other subjects, she examined how cultural forces led over time to feminist thinking.

Marilyn Yalom, a prolific feminist author and cultural historian whose subjects included the history of women as partners in marriage as well as the history of the female breast, died on Nov. 20 at her home in Palo Alto, Calif. She was 87.  Her son Reid Yalom said the cause was multiple myeloma.

The author Marilyn Yalom in 2007. Among the subjects she examined were the history of women as partners in marriage, the history of the female breast and the changing role of the queen in chess.

Ms. Yalom was a professor of French language and literature in the mid-1970s, as the women’s movement was gaining steam, when she segued into feminist scholarship at what is now Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research.

While she had already written a number of academic works, she did not start writing her more notable books until her late 50s. One of the first was “Maternity, Mortality, and the Literature of Madness” (1985), which suggests a link between madness and motherhood in some female writers, including Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf.

Her best-known works include “Blood Sisters: The French Revolution in Women’s Memory” (1993), “A History of the Breast” (1997), “A History of the Wife” (2001), “Birth of the Chess Queen: A History” (2004) and “How the French Invented Love” (2012).

read more here @ The New York Times

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Aberdeen woman who helped the world learn more about ancient Egypt

Stories of tomb-raiders, ancient worlds and mysterious gods can still send a shiver running along the spine but not many people are aware it was an Aberdeen-born woman who helped shape our interest in Egyptian history and archeology, and that even today, experts rely on her work and drawings to help them put together pieces of the puzzle surrounding ancient Egypt.

Aberdeen-born Annie Abernethie
Pirie Quibell (pictured on left )

Annie Abernethie Pirie Quibell was a fascinating, extraordinary woman, says Dr Daniel Potter from the National Museums Scotland (NMS).  Her name may not be too familiar but she’s considered to be so important that she was chosen by NMS to be a woman worth celebrating this year on International Women’s Day.

read more here @ Press and Journal


Historical Reformer: Dorothy Day

Image result for dorothy dayFrom Nations Media
Writer. Activist. Reformer. Socialist. Bohemian. Mystic. Rabble-rouser. Single mother. Pioneer of advocacy journalism. Catholic convert. Servant of God. 

Words so seemingly disparate it’s hard to believe they’re often used to describe one woman and candidate for sainthood: Dorothy Day. 

What to say about Dorothy Day? It’s nearly impossible to synthesize such an expansive life and legacy, but it is easy to trace the message she lived, stunningly simple in its essence: love is the final word. It was love that saved Day’s life. It was love that allowed her to see the face of Christ in her neighbor. And it was love that compelled her to live in alignment with His message.

“Our arms are linked—we try to be neighbors of his, and to speak up for his principles. That’s a lifetime’s job,” she once said. 

And what a lifetime it was! To understand Day’s impact on society and the larger Church, one must look at the kaleidoscope of experiences that compelled Day’s conversion; one must “follow the breadcrumbs” that led her to Catholicism and a life of service and activism. Her path is a winding one, and perhaps its unconventional nature is what makes her a saint for these tumultuous times.

 read more here @ Nations Media

Map of Scottish Witches

logoMap of places of residence for accused Witches from the University of Edinburgh

The Data and Visualisation internship project at the University of Edinburgh had as its core aim to geographically locate and visualise the different locations recorded within the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft Database.



You can read an excellent summary of the project to date on Anne-Marie Scott's blog here: Some witchy history and a very smart woman in data science

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Gaddafi's special team of female bodyguards: A dark story of rape and violence

At the peak of his power, Gaddafi was unavoidable. Perhaps, what he lacked in words was expressed in the mixed bag of atrocities he masterminded as well as all the good he did for the Libyan people.

The man was what he did not say but showed. And one of the things he showed – a thing that made him the “one to see” on the international scene – was his team of exceptionally trained and dramatically named Revolutionary Nuns.

The group was formed in the early 1980s, after Gaddafi's official resignation as Libyan head of state in favour of the title of "Brotherly Leader and Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya".  According to Joseph T. Stanik, Gaddafi reportedly employed a cadre of female bodyguards because he believed that an Arab gunman would have difficulty firing at women. However, it has also been submitted by other authors that Gaddafi's female bodyguards were, in reality, just an aspect of the dictator's well-known eccentric showmanship and his fondness of surrounding himself with young women. Gaddafi would usually travel with 15 of his Amazonian Guards assigned to security or housekeeping.
Revealed: Dirty secrets of Gaddafi's harem
It should come as very little surprise that in selecting who gets to put their life on the line for the president, some moral and spiritual significance is attached to a woman who has never had sex.  In recent times, however, it has been reported that becoming a member of the guard was not optional for some women. They are pried away from their families at the threat of dire consequences should they refuse.

read more here @ Face2Face Africa

see also:
Gaddafi's Harem: The Story of a Young Woman and the Abuses of Power in Libya by Annick Cojean

900-Year-Old 'Grand Lady' Skeleton Emerges from Watery Coffin

From Live Science
An exquisitely preserved skeleton of a woman dubbed the "Grand Lady" has been discovered in a water-filled coffin within a tomb at Tieguai Village in China. The coffin dates back 900 years.

The archaeologists who discovered the remains found that the body was buried with numerous grave goods, including a model house that has tiny furniture inside — a dollhouse of sorts — and a silver pendant depicting two dragons chasing pearls. A banner found on top of the inner coffin (which was in turn buried within an outer coffin) says that the tomb occupant is a "Grand Lady" who lived in "Ankang Commandery." Though her real name was hard to make out on the banner, the archaeologists said that it may be née Jian.

"The skeleton [of the Grand Lady] is essentially preserved, complete with fingernails and hair," a team of archaeologists wrote in a report published recently in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics.

Image result for grand lady tomb artefacts   Image result for grand lady tomb artefacts

She still had silver and gold hairpins on her head; "there were silver bracelets on her arm and a string of bronze coins on her abdomen, 83 coins altogether," the archaeologists wrote, adding that "underneath her right hand were two zongzi [which are the remains of two sticky rice dumplings], and embroidered shoes were on her feet."

read more @ Live Science

Poisoning Agnes Sorel

From CrimeReads
On a cold winter’s day, twenty-eight-year-old Agnes Sorel, the most beautiful woman in France, lay dying in the tidy stone manor house of the Abbey of Jumièges, some eighty miles northwest of Paris. She often traveled there to give moral support to her lover of many years, King Charles VII of France, in his ongoing campaign against English invaders. But this journey had an added impetus. Though the details are unclear, Agnes urgently wanted to warn the king of a plot against him. Whatever she told him, however, her royal lover didn’t take it seriously.


Shortly afterward, she went into premature labor and gave birth to her fourth child with the king. While her other three pregnancies had produced full-term, healthy offspring, this child died soon after. Now, on February 9, 1450, Agnes was tortured by a “flux of the belly”—nonstop diarrhea. After two or three days of agony, she whispered of her ravaged body, “It is a little thing and soiled, and smelling of our frailty,” and closed her eyes forever.

Rumors flew immediately that the Lady of Beauty, as Agnes was known, had been poisoned. A 2005 exhumation of Agnes’s mortal remains has revealed off-the-charts levels of mercury poisoning—between ten thousand and a hundred thousand times higher than normal.

read more @ CrimeReads

Hyde Park bridge named for abolitionist, suffragist Grimke sisters

From Universal Hub
Sign with inspirational quote from Sarah GrimkeCity officials and local historians and residents gathered at the former Dana Avenue Bridge in Hyde Park this morning to officially rename it as the Grimke Sisters Bridge in honor of two 19th-century sisters who fought for both the abolition of slavery and for women's rights to vote - and who on March 7, 1870 led a march of women to Hyde Park Town Hall to vote in the town elections, the first time women voted in the US - although the town then discarded their ballots.

The sisters, children of a prominent South Carolina slave owner, fought for ideals "that were dangerously radical, even among reformers," such as that all people are equal and deserve the same rights as white men, Catherine Allgor, president of the Massachusetts Historical Society, said. At a time when "racism ran deep in the United States," even among white reformers, "they were attacked on all sides, they were denounced in pulpits all up and down the East Coast," she said.

She added that Sarah Grimke specified she was not asking for special treatment by men. "All I ask from our brethren is that they take our feet off our necks," words later made famous by then lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

read more here @ Universal Hub

Abortion Is an Unwinnable Argument

From The Atlantic
In 1956, two American physicians, J. A. Presley and W. E. Brown, colleagues at the University of Arkansas School of Medicine, decided that four recent admissions to their hospital were significant enough to warrant a published report. “Lysol-Induced Criminal Abortion” appeared in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. It describes four women who were admitted to the hospital in extreme distress, all of them having had “criminal abortions” with what the doctors believed to be an unusual agent: Lysol. The powerful cleaner had been pumped into their wombs. Three of them survived, and one of them died.

Image result for lysol abortion

We will never know how many women had abortions via this method, or how many died because of it. Why was Lysol, with its strong, unpleasant smell and its corrosive effect on skin, so often used? Because its early formulation contained cresol, a phenol compound that induced abortion; because it was easily available, a household product that aroused no suspicion when women bought it; and because for more than three decades, Lysol advertised the product as an effective form of birth control, advising women to douche with it in diluted form after sex, thus powerfully linking the product to the notion of family planning.


read more here @ The Atlantic