collective social history

Thursday, July 27, 12:30-1:30 at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Radical and Rare: Building a Collection of the Left with Brad Duncan


One Piece
Marble bench, terrace
The Detroit Public Library, 8/2/17
#8x10 gelatin silver contact print

“I’ve never had my picture taken outside before.”

Marco Lorenzetti

“One piece,” is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda. It has received worldwide priaise for its art, characterization and humor. It’s broken several publishing records, including highest initial print run for any book in Japan, and the Guinness World Record for the most copies published for the same comic book series by the same author. It has sold over 416 million copies.

To speak of being treated “as a woman” is to make an empirical statement about reality, to describe the realities of women’s situation. In the USA, with parallels in other cultures, women’s situation combines unequal pay with allocation to disrespected work, sexual targeting for rape, domestic battering, sexual abuse as children, and systematic sexual harassment; depersonalization, demeaned physical characteristics, use in denigrating entertainment, deprivation of reproductive control, and forced prostitution. To see that these practices are done by men to women is to see these abuses as forming a system, a hierarchy of inequality. This situation has occurred in many places, in one form or another, for a very long time, often in a context characterized by disenfranchisement, preclusion from property ownership (women are more likely to be property than to own any), ownership and use as object, exclusion from public life, sex-based poverty, degraded sexuality, and a devaluation of women’s human worth and contributions throughout society. This subordination of women to men is socially institutionalized, cumulatively and systematically shaping access to human dignity, respect, resources, physical security, credibility, membership in community, speech and power. Comprised of all its variations, the group women can be seen to have a collective social history of disempowerment, exploitation and subordination extending to the present. To be treated “as a woman” in this sense is to be disadvantaged in these ways incident to being socially assigned to the female sex. To speak of social treatment “as a woman” is thus not to invoke any abstract essence or homogeneous generic or ideal type, not to posit anything, far less a universal anything, but to refer to this diverse and pervasive concrete material reality of social meanings and practices such that, in the words of Richard Rorty, “a woman is not yet the name of a way of being human…”
—  Catharine A. MacKinnon

We Cannot Live Without Our Lives

3rd World Women, Combahee River Collective. Founding members of the Combahee River Collective, Margo Okazawa-Rey and Barbara Smith, along with other activists, protest the Roxbury murders in Boston, 1979
Photo: Tia Cross

The name commemorated an action at the Combahee River planned and led by Harriet Tubman on 2 June 1863, in the Port Royal region of South Carolina. The action freed more than 750 slaves and is the only military campaign in American history planned and led by a woman.