tv Book Discussion on Knocking on Heavens Door CSPAN January 26, 2014 5:30pm-6:25pm EST
its early proponents advance it not because they championed democracy or the individual, but because they knew it would be one of several important mechanisms for empowering the federal government in unraveling constitutional republicanism. >> guest: the framers did not create pure democracy. that would be nonsense and crazy. if you look at the constitution, it's very complex, what they created here. a central government with limited enumerated powers, three branches, each of which is supposed to be working with each other sometimes, checking each other, and of course, you have the states, where all the plan area power is supposed to exist. so this idea that direct elections is what the framers intended is not correct. they intended it for the house of representatives, and madison's notes make this clear.
the debated at length what the senate was supposed to look like. they went back and forth with different models. but when i came to the senate, madison and the others mate clear you use coo not have the direct election of senators without creating a centralized government. they wanted a federal republican not all-powerful government and even made this case to the states when it went to the states for ratification of the constitution. they said, look, the senate is made up of individuals chosen by the state legislature, so you'll have a role in the federal lawmaking process, among other things. so the federalists used the senate, among other things, and the nature of the senate to per said the antifederalists to support the constitution, and if we had had direct election of senators to the original constitution there would not be an original constitution. the states would not have ratified it. furthermore, who exactly do the senators represent? it's the most bizarre body that
man has ever created. i mean, there's two from every state. we get that. that was to balance the large states and small states. but the direct election of senators, you have situations now where senators voted for the obamacare in states where the good and attorney general fought obamacare in court. and the state legislatures are trying to protect their citizens from obamacare when the senators voted for it. it's very bizarre. the senate today really is an odd construct. so the purpose of the senate was to empower the state legislatures in the federal lawmake are process north to just have another ability to vote. >> for this month's booktv book club, join other readers to discuss "the liberty amendments restoring the american public." go to booktv.org and click on book club and enter the chatroom.
>> booktv interviewed bonnie morris at georgetown university about her book "vaccine of the women's studiy professor" a book based on the play of the same name. she will be book tvs' in depth guest on february 2nd. >> host: professor bonnie morris, in your book "revenge of the women's studies professor" published by indiana university i want to start with chapter four. proofer marks i'm sorry to bother you but other could we talk privately? i enjoy your women's studies class. i love it. and i want to finish out the semester but my husband feels differently. he thinks it's a lot of radical ideas and want me to drop your class right now. he just doesn't like me going out at night to take a women's studies choose, even though it's
just once a week and i told him over and over it does count toward me finishing my business degree. she then invited you to i.d. at her house. she is older than you. and you write: and so i went to meet her husband and win his approval. i talked lightly about camping and hiking and movies, while he stared at my bust over the spiced ham. finally at the end of the meal he stood up to shake my hand saying, well, little lady, guess i thought you'd have horns on your head and come dressed in a suit of armor but i wrecken your woman enough after all this. >> guest: this is a true story, and the book is based on my one-woman play, which in turn is based on actual incidents in my career teaching women's studies and when i was in graduate school i was able to start teaching my own women's history courses. i taught night school, and the class, which was a history of
women and work, enrolled actual working women, many of whom were 36, 40. i was 23 at the time. and these women were coming back to school. they were returning adult students. they had amazing stories, and what i was able to offer was a history of what they were experiencing as women in the work force, balancing career and family. i did have a student who really had what i can now look back on as the hint of a domestic problem, and i really wanted her to stay in school, so this was an example of a husband who had a stereo type about what goes on in a wimp's its class and i knowledged myself out to win his approve so he would not keep his wife out of class. that was in binghamton new york, at a time when there was, as now, poverty and struggle but a
desire for education for many women, and unfortunately, then as now, women stood of studies or women's history is seen was controversial to two men people. >> host: what is women's studies. >> guest: an effort to fill in the blanks of what we are not taught about in terms of how women have contributed to planet earth, and for the most part, women's contributions to history have been overlooked ore trivialized or absent. the great men, founding fathers, all considered the public side of history, and women are seen as the private side. people are very respectful of what goes on in the family but what goes on in the family is private, and is not seen as important. so because women are also traditionally portrayed as modest or hidden, bringing attention to what women do or how women have contributed
always returns to the question of the body. so, for one thing, many people object to bringing women's studies or women's history into a middle school, high school classroom, because there's an assumption that women's studies is only about sex, birth control, abortion, and actually it's also about women in politics, women in law, women working on farms, queens, prime ministers, and my job is to break down the fear many people have. what goes on in a women's studies classroom. don't you all sit around in a circle humming and giving each other gynecological exams. no. so i have students come to me thinking the class will either be radical or easy. and they're horrified to learn they have to take tests and write papers and they can
actually flunk. women's studies. so, as the courses have gradually become mainstreamed i now attract people who just want that humanities credit, and who think, well, this will be me easy class whale take my premed spring, and many are the sad faces in my office, how could i possibly have earned a b? well you really need to know the names of some of these foremothers and you didn't get that in high school so you have to read the book, and one of the things i also do is, i'm a reader for the ap u.s.a. history example, and every june i read 1100 app apes says, and we do have content on women's history part of standardized testing now. now everybody has to know more women's history than the used to, to be considered an honor student or to get advanced credit. that is elevated the status of
women's history, but that has not eliminated the kind of questions and nervousness i encounter ever semester, with a lot of people. >> host: professor morris if you teach a freshman survey class, let's say, how many men are in that class? >> guest: that's a good question. i do teach women in western civilizations. i would say it's about 10%. depends on the year. sometimes in a group of 100,'ll have 17 men, 12 men, they are great. the guys are often some of the best students. i can also say, interestingly, i tend to have a lot of international male students. i think many of them have been pretty up front about wanting to look at gender issues. they come from the middle east or korea, pakistan. i've had students who have told me deliberately they want to take this class because it's the only time they'll have a chance.
they won't back in bahrain. i've also had guys who are very up front about being raised by single moms, very respectful of what women have done historically or to keep families together, and i also just have really smart guys who were political science majors or who intend to pursue careers in everything from justice to law. >> host: do you have that student, that male student in the class who maybe sees this as a -- has more nefarious -- >> guest: sure. i have guys raise their hand and objected. they have but not any more than the women, actually. i have more conservative women than i used to in part, again, because the field has been mainstreamed. we are people like okay bailey hutchinson, writing women's
history textbooks so no longer considered a brand of radical feminism to do women's history research and that's a whole other topic, but it's also true that a lot of people are just shocked by what they're learning. they never learned that women couldn't do this until 19 -- whatever. they didn't know that women were forbidden from serve only juries or attending princeton until 1968. so, the result is a lot of folks will say, wait a minute, wait a minute, where are you getting that? and that's a natural reaction. but i would also say that once in a while, we'll get somebody who is just very uncomfortable because the subject matter is painful, painful to look at the history of exclusion and what i have to do as an academic is to say, in the discussion section,
please feel free to respond as permanently or as angrily or emotionally as the readings move you. in the written work you submit you have to be professional, scholarly, detached, empirical, reasonable. and so that is the deal. you can sheriff you wish -- you can say whatever you wish. i will evaluate your writing based on a good scholarly style. and so i teach many athletes. i also teach women's sports history, and sometimes the athletes will use a little bit of street slang, and i have to write in the margin, ooh, let's find another word for this. so it's really more about teaching folks to write about personal history in a way that
is professional. >> host: what does one do as a women's studies major. >> guest: recall. minors and majors in women's studies good to -- go to law school. they build women's shelters, they run agencies. many go to work for nonprofits, ngos. some do web site design for women's organizations or become directors of women's shelters. i have lots of students who do internships with the different groups in d.c., whether it's
planned parenthood or working for little get -- little bit of international focus. also a lot of students who will minor in women's studies and combine it with a health degree. they're going to be nurses, doctors, there's a lot of folks who are looking at the impact of more access to education for girls and women in the rest of the developing world, and these include students that are going to work for the world bank. they have a background on gender which assists them in how you plot programs that can really assist families. >> host: when did the women's studies movement begin? and who were some of the foremothers. >> guest: great question. the first program was at san diego state university in 1969. so we have had a 40-year anniversary for a couple off years now.
school was also a refugee from the holocaust so a lot of the women who started the women's history had amazing histories of their own to tell the and were also persons who knew very well what it's like for history to make people visible and i think that is important now. you couldn't do a doctorate in women's history into many places until the late 80's and when i started graduate school it was one of about four places in the u.s. and the big change to of has been that women's studies programs have been offering degrees that range from a minor in a certificate to a master's, and george washington university where i teach is the oldest program of the policy in the country, and the focus here in
d.c. is on women and the government but other programs around the u.s. you might find more of the college and a lot of programs bring together faculty students and administrators every year through something called the national women's studies association. for women's history there is the conference that is once every four years a big gathering of women's history experts, male and female, these are wonderful defense where you see the range of topics everyone is interested in and it's everything from the renaissance to female pirates. i've done work on jewish women's history, women in sports, and the war, rock-and-roll, and it
fills the humber to really need your colleagues. >> host: is women's studies a u.s. phenomenon or movement and has it been internationalized? >> it is global and one of the things i've learned is that it exists internationally very popular with under twice in 1993 and in 2004 and on each occasion you take four to 800 students are around the world, 12 countries, 100 days. it's a very different kind of teaching. but any rate because i showed
two different sides from new zealand and ireland and iceland i encountered the studies faculty in at least 20 different countries that all had the exact same story. everyone is made fun of for pursuing research on women me and anybody that has to spend more time articulating where do you want to look at women than talking about what they've learned and wasting a lot of time defending the subject matter. on the other hand, there is a fantastic network. the internet has made it possible for me to connect with the faculty all over the world. the first program these women were incredible. we want to start a program we know that we will not fail.
i showed it to my father and he said no self-esteem problem, these women are going to survive. when i did my presentation and iceland, it was very different. everyone in the government came to hear me speak. i prepared a welcome speech because everyone spoke english and i wanted to try come and even with the quality it's unique to that community who there was a sense of how to present information on women that is sent over the sexualized or that doesn't market women and there are different issues in every country.
the big question was indigenous women's rights. they were very confrontational with me. what are you doing to reach out to the native american women. that is a question you wouldn't have had in a different kind of context. so going from place to place with the same presentation has been very useful for me to broaden my range. >> host: how was the meeting with fidel castro? >> guest: first the state department permission and all the people work in hand, first semester at sea as an education group. we thought we would spend two days touring havana admitting some students, that's it. on the last day the word came out fidel castro was going to speak at the university and you were invited. so people actually said no thank
you, i don't care to. i went in with some of the faculty and students and he spoke for four hours without stopping he had a glass of water and he never took a sip. it was an out of body experience but here's what was interesting. i was wearing a bright yellow dress and for whatever reason he came over, grabbed my arm and said if women ran the world there would be no more, do you not agree? and i said actually i don't agree. look at the women leaders that we have had that have some
knowledge. it was wonderful. and i send an e-mail that night to my parents that i had drinks with him and of course they said sure you did. then the photograph followed. that was a chance to debate with a known dictator so that was an unusual day. >> host: when you teach how do you approach her? >> guest: well, i love her and was an amazing film. one of the things that she's known for is not being an aficionado of the female legislation and she was a very good example of a woman who that had to be more or less accepted
to be taken seriously on the world stage and that is a good jumping off point for students to talk about. to what degree have we made everyone and said we have a quality that we have moved into more opportunities that were only ones available to men? and we don't see them attracting to the traditional women's work which is still a value devotee care, etc. so there is a general anxiety that women are allowed to at least imitate the public prestigious aspect of strength but some county feminize them,
and my students are really interested in those issues. how do you negotiate? does a woman have to be more like, how does iran during the sense of difference between men and women if you advocate for a maternity leave and somehow lowering the standards and productivity and security, but any way you can get all of that just from talking about a female prime ministers who have had to function. >> host: you also met with president bill clinton. >> guest: that is a great story. i met him twice. he was christmas shopping and i was in the mall. and we met at a basketball game
formally and my first year i was teaching at george washington and first it was a men's game and then a woman's game but in the 94 the president sat and cheered and as the women's game began he got to leave and i thought okay, what are you going to do? so i charged into the bleachers where he was comfortably shaking hands with approachable man, i stuck out my hand and i said hello mr. president by a women's studies professor here and i would like to encourage you to stay and watch the women play. it would show your support for the law and gives a message for your daughter is here that we have a great team.
he said i would love to but i have a meeting at the white house and i looked at my watch and i said you can watch the first 20 minutes and i thought i will give him a direct order to the president of the united states and he sat back down. so he became the first u.s. president to telephone a congratulations to the winning team that year so i like to think i had something to do with that, but you have to have a certain kind of confidence to just jump in and say this isn't fair or look what this symbolizes and i lived in the embassy neighborhood and i was not aware of how we showcased
who was in charge, what is power, where the women are perceived, said that was a small example to say don't you like women's sports? i do, and i teach them and they can not only do their warmups that they can get scholarships, don't you want to applaud them? i do. i think now we have more daughters that are in sports and we have more men advocating for that, too. what was your parent's attitude? >> guest: i was born in los angeles in the 60's and raised by parents who were very
liberal. in fact, they had a very unusual romantic marriage. if they were cautioned not to marry. at that time there was a big deal and now it seems not really anything to write home about. the exposed my brother and i to all of the issues and my father in particular gave me a reading list when i was as young as nine which included the literature to kill a mockingbird, langston hughes and alice walker. we went on many peace marches and then when he went to the east coast it was very progressive but have a women's studies curriculum so i was able to start taking women's history
in the formal classroom setting but encouraged learning at your own pace. when i was 12i was able to sort of pursue the subjects that interested me because i had been tested and pronounced gifted at an early age. teachers were interested in working with me. so i had all of that as a kind of privilege i had to acknowledge coming and my women's studies class's were a simultaneous and version on how are you going to get the vote, when were the first conferences in the 19th century, and also we looked at some of the issues of the day with the arguments about female equality and time and i am still in touch with all of those teachers and all those
folks that have a huge impression on me. i went from taking studies at 12 within ten years actually can. >> host: who are some of your personal heroes? >> guest: i should have crammed for that one. well, off the top of my head, early in life that was the women's writers like. yet despite harriet and to kill a mockingbird, those really shaped my life. i was very affected by billie jean king. there was a match that i watched and shirley, my mother took me to see her when she ran for president in 72. i heard her speak at deutsch university and was very much aware that a black woman was
running for president and i was frustrated i couldn't vote yet. later on, i was very impressed by the emerging voices of rita mae brown, but i had an interest in what was going on global e in terms of women who had been insiders in the holocaust and then the memoirs that wrote about the struggle for women to tell their stories and a female voice and i majored in jewish history as an undergrad and went to israel for a year so kind as all over the place in terms of survivors and those unafraid to speak and those who were able to
use the word. >> host: contemporary who were some of your heroes? >> guest: well i'm thinking who do i have up on the wall in my office. donald, who is my office mate at georgetown, certainly i admired her struggle. i'm very and pressed by the women who have broken through and managed to articulate in the next generation but that's a possibility. olympic airlines due to -- heroines and i'm a big fan of the women who've done work building the national women's history museum they are trying to establish in d.c., but meryl streep was working as a spokeswoman and we are trying to
get that built. it is a virtual museum right now. i'm also a person who is a fan i guess you could say of some of the women who've broken ground like ellen degeneres who went from coming out to being beloved by millions and just an amazing person. the cartoonist for the same reason and comedians for the same reason. and i also think certainly alice walker for establishing attention to the literature of women of color in a way that made space for many other authors, but of course she was instrumental in grad school. this photograph and ruth bader
ginsburg, all of the supreme court when men do the to -- women, incredible. we went from zero to several in my lifetime although it would be nice to have half and half of all you have to have half a person because there are nine. there was one directed shot in the capitol rotunda. we had a dinner party with the women and prior to the filming there was a sort of cocktail reception and i was able to meet sandra day o'connor and i also met devotee for them to the trustee six -- betty they said that mia hamm because the women had won the world cup and i was
delighted that she had advocated greater attention to women's sports. there was a thrilling occasion and i was one of the less famous people in the world of the achievers but my role was to sort of represent the women's history person and in part of the film i took my students around d.c. and we pointed out how easy it is to imagine women as justice and liberty as the statue of liberty and holding up scales at the supreme court, the but we don't have that many actual women and there was a whole controversy over how the statue of the suffragist who was actually in the basement of the capitol for many years until the complaint was its heavy and a
dusty so yes, women's history, bring it out in the open. >> host: what you think about the sculpture? >> guest: i think it's a great and i support those that think that she should be part of it. i think a lot of what i do in the classroom is saying who is not here, where are black women, servant girls, the overview of what are women doing. one of my midterms was if you don't acknowledge that we have a double standard in the 19th century, that women shouldn't do store to the coast ports -- if you don't think about the double standard you aren't going to get an a and you mentioned you will have a shot but no one is going to get one if they say women were not allowed in the 19th century to work hard.
that is just inexcusable. so it surprises some people when a white woman's history professor devotes so much time talking about the history of non-white women, but the biggest trap is to have women's history equals white women's history and that is no different than, you know, other kind of exclusions and i wish i had more time in a semester to cover what the community is still have not well represented, and more and more looking at whether the women with disabilities and what have you, but there's also students who are so moved that their background is mentioned it's astonishing to get e-mail sound
cards and letters from students who are for the very first time ever hearing about somebody that represents their community. maybe they were in school from age four through 20 and they are finally hearing about not just the female heroine but one that is latino or def or dador in the army or whenever it might be. >> host: has anything changed since you have been teaching and studying women's history? >> guest: yes, they have. i am much stricter. i am horrified by the lower standards of reading and writing. i don't want to get into we blame or what have you but i get students e-mail me with text message speak. i went to school and thought i
would always be this mellow person but no, so i get a page of this student etiquette guide. even though i am approachable, the practice -- i got a letter one day from an editorial and i also more cautious about being =to open to people coming into my office and burdening my personal relationship drama. i have to be a little more detached because occasionally i'm not the right person. i'm not a rabbi or spiritual adviser so i guess i know more of what my professional
obligations and limitations are and here is what is really strange. i'm old enough to be my students' mothers, so they do not seem me as their generation, which when i started my students were older than me so it was evening out and now i am the mother figure, so i come from a time where the cultural literacy that includes the war in vietnam and when people first started to have computers and salles phones, so my film and literature references had to be updated and that is a whole extra job to the current. on the other hand, i am able to be supportive and loving in a way that matters and in some
scenarios, somebody is really finally achieving and i can be a substitute parent for a lot of them how far from home but the other thing on your question, how perhaps have my views changed. ayaan understand -- i don't like it, but i understand it is generational to reject what your parents did. students that reject feminism or see women's history as a part of this era i understand that comes from the need to detach yourself from what your parents' generation did so when i have students that makes fun of women's history or who want to begin a sentence with i'm not a feminist, but my mom was, that is a function of time passing and it's not so much and
oppositional ideology so i have learned where is the student trying to define herself as different but she probably agrees with a lot of the same things and the funny thing that shows up is many of my students don't want to identify. they are taking the women's studies that they identify as girls and seen a woman as a term that represents their mother, their mother's generation, women's rights, they also are in this terrible economic moment when they do not expect to own a helm or have that kind of settled family life may be as early as another generation, so they see them symbolizing some soccer mom that is more settled
they don't think of women until they are more settled and in my day we were identifying women at age 12 so it's really changed. also, young women are entering puberty year earlier. they have a longer adolescence. let's say you are capable of having a child at ten but you are going to wait for marriage until you are 40, that is a 20 year adolescence. so the conflict reactions, controversy and out how we teach women's history was also affected by the way age groups have shifted around folks wanting to distinguish themselves and those who came before them, anxiety about being a grownup and what that means financially.
we have to rapidly make all of these calculations. where is the student coming from in their stereotype about history? is it from the family heritage desire to get ahead and their sense of i better not identify with one? and the only way to break down the spheres is with humor because exactly what people want to project is the image of a scary and unattractive but he left so when i come and i am fairly cheerful and can talk about whatever seems on threatening it helps to situate a student to expect some kind of, you know, humorless demon
and then we talk about why those stereotypes exist. >> host: finally why the revenge? >> guest: i am not a violent person. when i first started thinking about -- i wanted to talk about all these issues. why are the students afraid of taking women's studies and why do faculty advisers discourage students or the parents say you shouldn't take those classis? there were about 15 turning point in my own career where people had been rude or discouraging in ways that kind of summed up that this isn't a real field. women do not count as a subject. and i wanted to present all of
this act events that were being flooded with scholarly papers and i thought well i will do a kind of a one-woman show that will be different and i can express the same issues but in an entertaining format that will bring an more people, and it was definitely mean being able to talk back to all the people that out at me word said women's studies doesn't matter including the husband who didn't want his wife and my class. so it's almost like the revenge of the women's studies professor, and my modus operandi in life is when there i've been insulted or i find things that are offensive i often turn it into a short story. first i will write in my journal and then turn it into an essay and that is a way of getting
that kind of insults out of the body and into a public literature. so there is that same revenge as a dish best eaten cold. there's that waiting period when you think about how you want to talk back but in a reflective way that really will convince people of what you want to say. so revenge of the women's studies professor here i am going to tell you what happened as i try to becoming a really good professor and how i got through all of that be leveling that happens to such a person and i'm going to meet you laugh, but i'm also going to have the last word and that is the only revenge i really want, to share the stereotypes' are funny but they can hurt and a student should never be discouraged from looking at the history of the matter.
>> host: "revenge of the women's studies professor," bonnie morris professor george washington universities and author coming out very shortly, probably by the time this interview airs it will be out. women's history for beginners. >> guest: that's right. that is book number eight and it is going to be held on the 14th of february, valentine's day. that is a good introductory textbook which starts with the first woman going for the major. that is one of a wonderful series of economics for beginners, einstein for beginners so it begins with why don't we know more about women's history and its driven and goes through a basic sort of famous women and not so famous one in and lots of resources and i have a wonderful illustrator and that
is intended i hope for high school as well as college classrooms. and again, a approach to women's history in a way that shouldn't intimidate but instruct. >> host: what is this illustration in your book? >> guest: the illustration of where women have been kicked out of public life because a woman out of line in public is assumed to be somehow unchaste and one reason we don't know about women's accomplishments as a good girl is not supposed to be known by anyone but her male relatives. so there's a lot of the emphasis and the scripture that women should be hidden from other men, so hard to become famous if that is included with modesty.
i want to pick up where she left off, talking about the book and what made up the look to sort of ask what were we doing when we were letting those blog posts because i think there are ways in which the format is the changing then nature or some aspect of the supreme court advocacy and blending old categories, so i want to think about the blog posts that made up the book and think about how one particular they may be changing. with the material in this book
being the first example of how this might happen. what led me to think about the book this way is at the same time i had an article some of you may be familiar with the professors at the university of michigan who was a giant in my academic field criminal procedure and in the 1960's when he was a young academic he wrote a series of articles really rethinking some of the basic understandings of the nature of the constitutional criminal procedure which had been very narrow up to that point, and he came along and said i think we are treating these cases wrong. i think we should start to think about a new role for the court and he laid down the articles published in the traditional journals and in some cases the chapters of the book and new ways of thinking about the
constitutional possibility for example the miranda rights and in part reflecting the idea that the fifth amendment shouldn't be limited to the courthouse but also in the station house during interrogations' and that was the argument that the lead out and you go back and look at the articles and then the supreme court decision that followed that he was playing a role in changing the terms of the id date and the academic vice was here is a new possibility and the supreme court would come out with a decision echoing the idea so that was an example of an academic engaging on something like advocacy support, the way of opening up the courts possibility and in that case it was to put political labels on he
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