Alumni Update: Ashley Lauren Samsa

An op-ed piece by Ashley Lauren Samsa (06) was published on the Huffington Post on November 3, and remains as of this writing the lead story on the  Women’s page.  In her piece, Ashley discusses the pressure to have children that she and other women face.  “The bottom line is that when we pressure women to have children, even if we are just innocently asking ‘when’ it will happen, what we are really saying is that women aren’t worth much without them,” she writes. “Men aren’t asked this question incessantly.” Noting that the human population has reached seven billion, Ashley continues, “I’d venture to say that the pressure is off.  Humankind will not end because you did not give birth.”

Writing to Professor Kathleen O’Gorman about her accomplishment, Ashley thanked her for being supportive.  “Knowing you believed I could do whatever I wanted…was invaluable.  Undergrad is such a tumultuous time,..and if you don’t have someone to back you up, you may never realize your full potential.”

Ashley teaches high school in the Chicago suburbs.  She has published in blogs such as The Mamafesto and the Ms. Magazine Blog and is a regular contributor to Gender Across Borders.

Sainsbury to give Faculty Colloquium talk

Professor Alison Sainsbury’s will present her Faculty Colloquium talk, titled “Women’s Domestic Humor and ‘The Problem That Has No Name,’ or, How My Aunt Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Home,” this Friday, November 4, at 4 PM in CNS 101.

In her talk, Dr. Sainsbury will speak about her aunt, Kay Nelson, a writer of domestic humor who was a regular contributor to magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, Look, and Good Housekeeping in the same era in which Betty Friedan published her groundbreaking feminist book The Feminine Mystique.  A piece by her aunt appeared, in fact, in the same issue of Good Housekeeping in which Friedan published the first excerpt of The Feminine Mystique.

“Even had my aunt’s work not so neatly overlapped in that issue of Good Housekeeping with Friedan’s challenge to assumptions about women’s so-called natural role and place in the home,” says Dr. Sainsbury, “my aunt’s time as a working writing and the subject and genre of her writing–the foibles of life in just such middle-class suburban households as Friedan anatomizes in her book–would still place her and her work squarely into this gathering energy of second-wave feminism….My contention is that looking at my aunt’s work and her correspondence with her editor leads us to a more nuanced and complex reading of both the literary genre of women’s domestic humor and the issues at play in Friedan’s book.”

The event is free and open to the public.  Please come join us for what promises to be a fascinating talk.