Thursday, April 29, 2010

Oakland University adds "Growing Up Girl" to women and gender studies curriculum

Oakland University will offer a new course in its women and gender studies program entitled, "Growing Up Girl: Studies in American Girlhood, Media, and Popular Culture." It will be taught by Professor Jennifer Martin.

"Jo Reger (director of Oakland's WGS program) asked me if I would be interested in developing a course dealing with girl culture, girlhood, things girls face today in American culture: sexuality, body image, gender identity, consumer culture, developing voice, etc. We will be examining a variety of diverse voices and perspectives in the course," said professor Martin.

Professor Martin is a past co-chair of the National Women’s Studies Association Special Interest Group: Girls’ Studies, and has been conducting research on girls in the areas of sexual harassment, feminist identity development, and empowerment for several years.

Some of her goals for the class include:

>Analyze how the mass media and popular culture contribute to differing socialization of girls and boys.

>Compare the differences in gender socialization in the family, schools, and institutions for girls and boys.

>Examine the effects and responses to toys, clothes, make-up, hygiene products, etc. that specifically target girls.

Students will also research and examine girl-produced artifacts, such as zines and blogs, as well as how girls use various forms of media to develop identities.

The class will be available for the winter, 2011 semester. For registration information, contact Oakland University's women and gender studies program at

Although she has not finalized her book list for the up-coming class, professor Martin recommends the following books on girl culture for parents, sisters, aunts, educators, and anyone with girls' interests at heart:

Driver, S. (2007). Queer girls and popular culture: Reading, resisting, and creating media. New York: Peter Lang.

Durham, M. G. (2008). The Lolita effect: The media sexualization of young girls andwhat we can do about it. New York: The Overlook Press.

Ensler. E. (2010). I am an emotional creature: The secret lives of girls a round the world. New York: Villard.

Haris, A. (Ed.) (2004). All about the girl: Culture, power, and identity. New York: Routledge

Jiwani, Y., Steenbergen, C., & Mitchell, C. (2006). Girlhood: Redefining the Limits. Montreal: Black Rose Books, 2006.

Lamb, S. L., & Brown, L. M., (2006). Packaging girlhood: Rescuing our daughters from marketers’ schemes. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Mazzarella, S. (2005). Girl wide web: Girls, the internet, and the negotiation of identity. New York: Peter Lang.

Melzer, M. (2010). Girl power: The nineties revolution in music. New York: Faber and Faber.

Sinikka A, Gonick, M, & Harris, A. (2005). Young femininity: Girlhood, power and social change. New York: Palgrave Macmillan

Van Ausdale, D. & Feagin, J. R. (2001). The First R: How Children Learn Race and Racism. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

All titles are available from Prices range from $10 - $35.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

More news flashes

Walmart sex discrimination suit goes forward

It has the potential to be the largest class action sex discrimination suit in U.S. history. A potential settlement could cost the company billions of dollars as women workers at Walmart take their nine-year lawsuit forward. This case could reach the Supreme Court by the fall.

See the story from "The Early Show" on CBS:

Women, "The Pill," and the wage gap

May marks the "birth" of the birth control pill 50 years ago. Its impact goes beyond sex. "The Pill" spawned economic and social changes for women by giving them a greater degree of choice, freedom, and control that allowed them to enter the workforce.

Speaking of the workforce, the wage gap is alive and well. Women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. And, it's not just about "simple sexism."

The PBS program "On Point with Tom Ashbrook" has broadcast two important podcasts this month.

Use the links to listen or download them on iTunes free.

"Women, Pay, and Equity"
"Fifty years of the Birth Control Pill"

Troy police department joins Operation Medicine Cabinet

from the Troy-Somerset Gazette

The Troy police department, in conjunction with Operation Medicine Cabinet, is functioning as a drop-off site for old and unused prescription drugs.

According to Operation Medicine Cabinet's website, in Oakland County alone, 300 pounds of prescription drugs have been collected and destroyed from July 2009 through December 2009.

Proper disposal of prescription medications keeps toxins out of the water supply and prevents misuse.

The Troy police department is located at 500 West Big Beaver Road and parking is free. Bring old and unused prescription drugs to the lobby during business hours -- Monday-Friday 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m - 4 p.m.

Read more about Operation Medicine Cabinet and find other drop-off sites throughout Oakland County at

Too Cute

from the Associated Press

He weighs only six pounds and is 14 inches tall. Meet Einstein. He was born in New Hampshire and may be a record-holder for lightweight foal.

Guiness Book of records lists the smallest newborn horse at nine pounds.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

From Cherie's kitchen: Vegan stuffed peppers

There must be 100 different ways to make stuffed peppers. I adapted this recipe from "Complete Vegetarian Cuisine" by Rose Elliot.

This is one of my favorite dishes -- especially when local and homegrown produce is in season. It could be made with ingredients from your garden. Fresh herbs may also be used as they become available.

The best part is that it's vegan -- so nobody gets killed. The soy crumbles give the dish body, and make it "stick to your ribs" with a healthy dose of vegetable protein.

Some recipes recommend parboiling the peppers -- I've eliminated this step for a couple of reasons. Obviously, it eliminates a step and saves time, but the peppers also retain more flavor and hold up better for leftovers the next day.

Choose peppers that are firm, unblemished, and have a "good squarish shape" so they can stand upright on their own -- it makes for easier serving and a nicer presentation. Use all green peppers, or a mix of red, yellow, and orange for a colorful dish. Personally, I find the colorful varieties have a milder flavor and are easier to digest.


Vegan Stuffed Peppers

Serves three heartily or two with leftovers.


Six green peppers -- or red, yellow, or orange
1 12 oz. package soy crumbles (Morningstar Farms or Boca)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups uncooked rice -- brown, white, or long-grain
2 1/2 cups water
2 TBSP Parsley flakes
1 TBSP Oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste


Wash peppers well and slice off just the tops. Remove seeds and membrane from the inside. Place peppers in a large casserole dish, and add one cup of water to the bottom. Set aside.

Chop the onion and tomatoes.

In a large, non-stick skillet, prepare the soy crumbles according to package directions. Add a little water as needed to keep it moist.

Add the onion and continue cooking until the onion is opaque.

Add the rice, tomatoes, oregano, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix well to combine.

Add the water, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes or until water is absorbed.

Heat oven to 350F

Spoon soy/rice mixture into the peppers, cover, and bake 30 minutes. Any extra stuffing may be baked in a small, greased casserole dish. (Depending on the size of the peppers, there can be a little left over.)

Serve with a green salad.

Promptly refrigerate leftovers.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Shallow or deep?

"I've sung a song that a woman has written from a man's perspective -- Kate Bush wrote "This Woman's Work" -- but I've never thought what I would want to say for a woman. But it's one of those things. It's like childbirth. A man will never know. We'll never understand what it takes for a woman to go through all that they go through. I can't say that I know what I would need to say for a woman, but I know that I've learned from women, and I've learned what not to say: "Baby you look good in them jeans. They don't make you look fat at all." Things like that."

Soul singer Maxwell in response to a Time magazine reader's question, "If you were to write a song for a woman to sing, what message would you want her to convey?"

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Poetry Podcast: "I am a woman in ice" by Martha Courtot

Listen to the poem here:

About the poet

The Internet reveals very little information about Martha Courtot. I found this poem as part of the collection, "Poems from the Women's Movement" edited by Honor Moore.

And there, I found only the dates of her birth and death: 1941-2000.

I found an obituary of sorts on the website of the California Disability Alliance that described Courtot as "... a lesbian poet and writer of huge talent and great heart."

According to this post, she wrote two collections of poetry -- "Tribe" and "Journey" -- both are out of print. Library availability is scarce too.

Beyond this, there is very little verifiable information.

About this poem

Poems can mean different things to different people. In many cases, we do not know what the poet was feeling or thinking when s/he wrote a particular verse -- therefore, it is subjective.

When I read this poem, I thought of rebirth or reemergence -- the natural cycle of life, death, and rebirth that exists in nature.

It also brought to mind a recovery from depression. As a depressive myself, I often recall a feeling of being "frozen" in a state much like suspended animation -- not quite alive, but not dead.

When Courtot says, "I never thought I'd love the sun again," that's exactly how I felt.

I could find no biographies of Martha Courtot. She doesn't even have a separate Wikipedia entry. I'd like to give her one.

IMHO: A simple "act of green" makes everyday an Earth Day

Even before I identified myself as an ecofeminist, I believed that we are the guardians of the earth. It is our responsibility to do what we can to take care of it during our lifetimes. The responsibility is passed down through the generations.

This is a responsibility I take very seriously.

When I think back, it was instilled in me by my late parents, Chet and Marie. Mom and dad weren't perfect -- but this was one this they did right.

My dad was an organic gardener. I grew up in Royal Oak on a "little farm in the city." My family enjoyed a big garden every summer with corn, tomatoes, cukes, carrots, green beans, peas, green peppers, and onions. Dad also grew raspberries and strawberries. Our mini backyard orchard produced cherries, apples, plumbs and peaches.

Now, I suppose we could call my dad an urban farmer.

Dad did composting before it was cool. It was a natural thing in our house to place coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peelings, and egg shells in a little covered bucket by the kitchen sink. It was regularly emptied into a home-made compost contraption in the very back of the yard. Dad also added grass clippings, and even pesky crab apples.

Now, you can buy pretty compost buckets made especially for that purpose and fancy composters to use.

Dad would work the compost back into the soil. It became so rich that he never had to use commercial fertilizer.

He ordered boxes of lady bugs and praying mantis to control harmful insects such as aphids. The boxes would sit in the freezer to keep the insects dormant. Then, in the spring, they would be "thawed out" and released in the garden.

Since we lived on the busy street corner of Lexington Boulevard and Main Street, we would get a lot of garbage tossed between the curb and the sidewalk. Dad would take a daily walk to pick it up and keep it neat.

My folks recycled before there were curbside programs. Dad would save coffee cans, glass bottles, and newspapers in the garage -- much to the dismay of my school chums -- and then take them to the recycling center.

Mom was big on garage sales. Although a sale was more of a social event in the neighborhood, she did manage to recycle clothes, toys, tools, and knickknacks we no longer used or wanted.

Dad was strict about conserving electricity and water. "Just wait until you're paying the bills," he used to say.

It seems that mom and dad lived pretty green. I don't remember celebrating Earth Day growing up -- although it's been around in the U.S. since 1970 -- but we made these practices part of our daily routine so that everyday was an Earth Day.

I do the same things in my daily 21st century life when it's considered cool to be "green" and practice things I've done my entire life.

I love the "One Million Acts of Green" project launched in Canada by Cisco -- an information technology and communications company -- in 2008.

The crux of the campaign is that everyone can make a difference with just one little "act of green," because they all add up.

An act of green is defined as "an opportunity to help the environment ... a contribution to help fight global warming."

Here are some acts of green Chris and I have done, and continue to do:

>Signing up for "Green Currents" through DTE Energy.

>Recycling on a regular basis through Troy's curbside program.

>Using reusable bags instead of paper or plastic when we shop.

>Replacing toxic cleaners -- like toilet bowl cleaner -- with eco-friendly plant-based products.

>Planting trees (four on our property in the last 10 years.)

>Adopting a vegetarian diet.

>Striving to buy 10% organic produce and other products.

>Buying local produce when we can.

>Encouraging others to do these things too.

Some of these practices take commitment and practice. Others are simple and require just a little forethought.

Cisco has sponsored a website where you can keep track of your "acts of green" and pledge to do others. So far, I've decreased my carbon footprint by 11,198 Kg a year.

You can do this too. Go to and start a personal "acts of green" account.

Please join us to make everyday and Earth Day.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Women in Iraq's parliament -- by law

"At the beginning it wasn't conceivable that a woman could run."
-- Afaf Abdel-Razzak a woman recently elected to Iraq's parliament.

Under the new Iraqi government, 25% of parliament must be female -- it's required by law.


Another great piece from NPR. Listen here:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Speaking of women in space ... China's new requirement is "married with children"

According to Time magazine, men chosen to lead China into outer space must meet near-impossible standards.

Chinese astronauts, sometimes referred to as taikonauts (a word crafted by the media combining the Chinese word for space, taikong, with the Latin, naut, meaning sailor), cannot suffer chronic sore throats or runny noses.

Additionally, potential space travelers cannot have food restrictions, strong regional accents, ringworm, cavities, or scars. They can also be disqualified for bad breath, body odor, and a snoring problem.

Women have two additional criteria: they must be wives and mothers.

The reasoning, according to Chinese officials, is that spaceflight could potentially harm women's fertility.

The Chinese requirement is contrary to a 2005 study in the International Journal of Impotence Research. According to this study, short-duration spaceflight - missions up to nine days - has no adverse effect of the reproductive abilities of either male or female astronauts.

Most women astronauts in the United States and other countries don't have children because they delay getting pregnant due to unpredictable flight schedules and rigorous physical training.

Yet, Cai Yiping, executive director of Isis International says, "Chinese women are defined by their maternity. The perfect woman should be married with a child. Preferably a son, but I don't know if the space program has put that in their requirements yet."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Four females in space is a first

Right now, there are four women in space -- the most at one time.

Today is day six of a 14 day mission for the space shuttle Discovery. The crew includes three women:

Japanese astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, 39; Stephanie Wilson, 43; and Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger,34.

The fourth is Tracy Caldwell Dyson, 40, who launched aboard a Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan with two Russian men.

Shuttle mission STS 131 is a 14-day mission to bring spare parts, equipment, and other supplies to the nearly-completed space station. It is one of four flights remaining before the space shuttle fleet is retired.

Dyson and her crew will remain on the station for six months.

Follow the shuttle mission and read biographies of the crew members here at

Friday, April 9, 2010

Just for fun: Thrifty shopping in Charlevoix, Mich.

The thrift shop trade is booming. Not only is it an excellent way to recycle and reuse household items and clothing we no longer use, it benefits communities and helps others in need.

Plus, you can find some cool stuff at great prices. Never before has thrifty been so chic.

During a recent weekend visit to Petoskey, Mich., Chris and I drove over to Charlevoix to visit our favorite thrift store -- the Rainbow Shoppe.

We discovered the shoppe some years ago when it was located in downtown Charlevoix. The building was cramped -- but impressive. It was the nicest thrift shop either of us had ever been in. Merchandise was clean, tastefully displayed, and organized into departments.

A good thing got even better when the Rainbow Shoppe moved to its new home, a former art gallery, on Old U.S. 31 South.

Check out my slide show:

The main level is divided into women's, men's, and children's clothing departments with housewares in between. Pricing is coded by dots All the clothing is sized and segmented.

In the basement is furniture and sporting goods. On this particular day, I found some good deals on a chandelier and some attractive living/dining room furniture.

Upstairs you'll find ladies shoes, coats and purses along with our favorite spot -- the Book Nook.

Initially, the shoppe was a project started by the community's 10 churches. Brian, one of the shoppe's employees, told me that Rainbow is a non-profit organization that has been in business for over 20 years.

"(The shoppe) has a board of directors, we have a few paid employees. Everybody at the counter -- they're all volunteers. People come (into the shoppe), we help them with clothing and furniture if they need it. All the money stays in the Charlevoix County area."

Chris and I have been bringing our castoffs to Rainbow for the last couple of years. It's our way of giving back to the community while we enjoy it.

So, now that you know about northern Michigan's best thrifty spot -- drop in the next time you're "up north."

A couple of on-line reviews about the Rainbow Shoppe from Google Maps:

Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 By gregory - Feb 14, 2009

My wife and I have been to resale stores all around the country. The Rainbow Shoppe looks better, smells better, and has better deals(especially the books!) than any of the others.‎

Great for books!‎

Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 By Grace W. - Sep 28, 2008
I love their new location! They have so much more shape. I personally never find any clothes here, but I always go away with a bag full of books! They have a huge book room and the books are always clean and well put out. ...‎

Rainbow Shoppe is located at 06480 Old U.S. 31 South in Charlevoix, Mich. The shoppe is open throughout the year Monday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Telephone number is (231)547-2815

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Breast Cancer Briefs

A federal judge in New York has revoked seven patents involving human gene mutations linked to breast cancer.

Judge Robert Sweet concluded that the patents should not have been issued because they involve products of nature and not human action.

The patents involve mutations in genes BRCA1 AND BRCA2 and are held by Myriad Genetics and the University of Utah.

Attorneys for Myriad Genetics asked that the case be thrown out and argued that the expertise and effort to isolate the DNA justified the granting of the patents.

However, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that genes alone do not predict who is likely to develop a cancerous breast tumor.

Unlike the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, which are rare, the researchers studied 10 mutations commonly found in 20-40% of the population.

In a study involving over 11,000 women, researchers discovered that testing for these mutations was no better for screening than asking questions involving traditional risk factors of family history, age of fertility, and age when a first child was born.

A doctor’s ability to predict a tumor improved only when genetic testing was combined with questions about these traditional risk factors.

And while the rare mutation of BRCA1 greatly boosts a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, the key to lowering her cancer risk may be the deactivation of another gene.

Researchers report that they’ve been able to lower the risk of cancerous tumors in mice by deactivating a gene known as 53BP1.

The mice had a mutated BRCA1 gene, which boosted their chances of developing breast cancer just as it does in humans.

From AFP, Reuters, and HealthDay News respectively

Saturday, April 3, 2010

News Flashes

VegFest is coming to Ferndale April 18

VegFest -- "one of the country's premier vegetarian events" -- is coming to Ferndale High School on Sunday, April 18 from 11 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

The event is sponsored by VegMichigan -- a non-profit organization promoting awareness of health, environmental, and ethical benefits of a plant-based diet.

According to the VegMichigan website, "Last year, 1,600 people learned how to eat less meat to benefit health, the planet, and all its creatures."

The event will feature speakers Rory Freedman, coauthor of the "Skinny Bitch" book series, and former Detroit Piston John Salley -- a devoted vegan.

There will also be cooking demonstrations, exhibits, and food from local vegetarian-friendly restaurants.

Ferndale High is located at 881 Pinecrest -- west of Woodward, south of Nine Mile Road. Admission is $10 at the door, $5 for students. Tickets can also be preordered at

Rochelle Riley honored with two inspirational awards

from the Detroit Free Press

On Saturday, April 10, Freep columnist Rochelle Riley will receive the Power of a Woman's Voice in the Community Award presented by the Detroit branch of the American Association of University Women. The award recognizes individuals who use their time and talent to draw attention to city-related issues.

Additionally, on May 13, Riley will be the co-recipient of the Mercy Education Project PHD Award. The award recognizes the positive impact, hard work, and dedication involved in achieving professional excellence, serving others, and inspiring women and girls to strive for success.

Paquin reveals her true colors

from the Detroit Free Press

"True Blood" star Anna Paquin, 27, reveals her bisexuality in a public service announcement for True Colors Fund, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality group.

The ad is part of the "Give a damn," campaign to raise awareness of issues such as workplace discrimination, hate crimes, marriage, parenting and health.

Paquin won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama. She also became the second youngest winner of the the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1994 for the film, "The Piano."

Feminist research comes to Michigan

from the Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press

Filmmakers Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly are re­cording the oral histories of real-life Rosie the Riveters — women who worked in defense plants and munitions factories during World War II. The two will be in Michigan at the end of April to interview Michigan Rosies. They hope to complete a documentary by spring 2011. More in­formation: