Archive: Jul 2014

Do you know a hipster when you see one? Have you ever been in the company of a hipster and tried to bring up the subject?

Talking about hipsters in front of hipsters is more taboo than you might think. The term is rarely lobbed in the presence of those who would fit the label. Most often it is used to describe other men in a disparaging way –like calling a guy a “douchebag” or a “fag.” At the same time, hipster has a different ring to it. It is calls the authenticity of one’s masculinity into question.

When I was studying a young, straight, white group of men who frequented the same bar, I regularly encountered the term. I learned quickly that if men found out they’d been “hipster’d” when they weren’t around, they were deeply offended. Part of hipster identity seems to be explicitly about NOT identifying as such. Hipsters have a casual form of detachment about identity and tastes—a gendered nonchalance that I call “practiced indifference.” more...


When we had a baby girl, her super hip grandmother asked “Is there an Internet site where we can buy books that feature strong girls?”

At the time there wasn’t. But lo and behold, it has arrived. And it is a sensation. We have to thank the feminist blogosphere for helping us to get here. more...

Winged Victory Statue on TWU Campus - Photo by CameliaTWU via
Winged Victory Statue on TWU Campus – Photo by CameliaTWU via

In 2007, I was invited to speak at an event for graduate sociology students at Texas Woman’s University (TWU). A new faculty member in the department, I accepted the invitation. I had no idea what I would talk about.

I had just moved to Texas and felt pretty uneasy about my place. In addition to the heat (100 degree days and 90 degree nights), I was an east coast woman sociologist in a small academic department with no gender focus, in a southern state known for religiosity and gun-toting individualism. I had only been to Texas for my job interview, and I had no shortage of preconceived biases about the lone star state. The gun-toting individualism turned out to be true, relatively. But as we know, sweeping stereotypes misrepresent the nuance of any social context. As a newbie, I had no real sense of context. I just did my best to get along while staying true to myself.

I decided to talk about something safe, the name of the university—Texas WOMAN’s University. What did it mean to use the singular term woman to describe this co-ed university? The Chancellor explained the name by saying that every Texas woman has a place at TWU. It reminded me of Virginia Woolf’s, A Room of One’s Own… which addresses the spaces women have a right to occupy, the paths women are allowed to take. Having a University of one’s own suggested the right to occupy intellectual space, to learn and to create knowledge. I liked the idea. It seemed like an acceptable subject for my talk so down the path of womanism I went.

What is a woman sociologist? What do woman sociologists want? more...