Women

Bessie Stringfield: The Motorcycle Queen of Miami

Sep 22, 2016
Cover art courtesy of Joel Christian Gill | Author photo courtesy of NHIA

From intrepid explorers to hearty pioneers to Jack Kerouac's drug addled odyssey, the road trip is a staple of American literature and folklore. Stories of crossing the nation are allegories for freedom, expanding opportunities, and often escape.

The little known story of an African American woman crossing the country eight times during the 1930s and 40s is remarkable enough. The fact that Bessie Stringfield did it—alone—on a motorcycle is downright astonishing.

Athenamama via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/JpXUh

Bach, Beethoven, and Haydn are familiar names, but what about Caccini, Strozzi, and Maconchy? Today, we hear sounds and stories from the forgotten female composers of classical music.

Then, one sales strategy has stood the test of time, making the transition from 1950s house parties to digital media - multilevel marketing, or direct sales. But what might seem like an awkward annoyance is actually changing social dynamics for hundreds of thousands of women. 

JDHRosewater via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/pXMPW8

It's known on the street as Ecstasy, MDX, or Molly, but MDMA is now being tested as a way to treat the millions of Americans who suffer from chronic PTSD. Today, one of the premier drivers of MDMA research brings his mission to fund clinical trials to New England.

Then, fans of Downton Abbey know that it takes a well-oiled domestic staff to keep a British estate looking pristine. We’re taking deeper look into the history of British servitude...and cleaning.

Gender Gap: Why Are Women More Religious?

Mar 31, 2016
Rachel Martin / Flickr/CC

A new study finds that while Americans overall are a religious bunch compared to people in other developed countries. Among U.S. women, that commitment is especially high, whether it's attending worship services or daily prayer.  We'll look at this gender-gap, what might be behind it, and what it means for organized religion.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Debbie Banaian is fighting hard.  The Manchester resident, braced against the pink-topped wrestling table, is losing, but fighting back.  Her opponent, UNH student Nate Knauff, falters.  That’s when Banaian rallies and beats him to the crowd’s delight.

The 51-year-old shakes her arm and seems ready to go again.  She’s at UNH Manchester to demonstrate the sport as part of a partnership with the local YMCA.  She calls out a challenge to students huddled on sofas in the student commons near the café. They look up from their books with a blend of confusion and wonder.

Mrs. America, Fashion Victims, & Female Action Figures

Jan 29, 2016
Ed T via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/7g7MyS

Most beauty pageants test the mettle of contestants in categories like the evening gown and swimsuit competition, the Mrs. America pageant has a history of judging contestants a bit differently. On today's show we'll look at the long and strange history of the pageant.

Then, when a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, the public cried out against sweatshop conditions and the deadly price of fast fashion - but fashion, it turns out, has been costing people their lives for a very long time.

Also today, #WheresRey? A dubious decision to bet against female action figures leads to an online backlash against toy companies.

Allegra Boverman

For the first time in its 100 year history, Planned Parenthood has endorsed a candidate in a presidential primary: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Clinton officially accepted the endorsement yesterday afternoon in Manchester. NHPR’s Natasha Haverty reports.


Lehigh University / Flickr/CC

Over the last decade, high schools and universities have adopted programs encouraging female students to pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, and there’s been a lot of talk about closing the gap.  But now, this divide is changing, with women dominating in some stem fields and men in others.  We’re getting the latest picture.

Guests:

8.17.15: The Fight That Changed TV & The Speechwriter

Aug 17, 2015
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures / http://bit.ly/1MtHysd

The 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago is remembered for protests and violence, but one radical decision that came out of that convention has changed the nature of debate in this country. Today, how the face-offs between liberal Gore Vidal and conservative William F. Buckley turned television debates into a blood sport. We’ll also speak with a speechwriter for Mark Sanford, the South Carolina governor who added “hiking the Appalachian trail” to our lexicon. 

Stefan / Flickr CC

While some women leave their job when making the choice to become full-time mothers, experts say there is a wide range of other reasons that women aren’t holding on to jobs at the same rates they used to. This, despite the overall economic improvement of the last few years. We’re looking at some of the social, economic, and political factors that are keeping fewer women are in the labor force today.

Brady-Handy Photograph Collection (Library of Congress)

Male-only swimming pools, too few bathrooms, inappropriate sexual comments: On today’s show the secret--and not so honorable--history of women in the U.S. Senate.

Then, common wisdom tells us that half of marriages end in divorce. Turns out, the oft-quoted number is wrong. We’ll debunk the pervasive divorce rate myth. And, we’ll take an unfiltered look at the state of family and maternity leave in America.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Women In Gaming And Tech

Nov 24, 2014
John / Flickr/CC

While just as many females as males play, the gaming world has a reputation as a less-than-welcoming community for women, with some extreme harassment in a recent controversy dubbed Gamergate. We’ll look at the conversation since Gamergate, from why gaming culture has these elements, to the challenges women face in the tech industry.

GUESTS:

helenthorpe.wordpress.com

In her new book, author Helen Thorpe tells the tales of three female National Guard members, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Thorpe traces their stories: from their expectations joining the Guard before 9/11, to their experiences going off to war, and then troubles on the home front.

GUEST:

  • Helen Thorpe - journalist and author from Denver, CO. Her most recent book is "Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War."

LINKS:

Unknown, via Wikimedia Commons

Over the past 25 years, the percentage of people with no religious affiliation has more than doubled, at the same time, the internet has been widely embraced. Coincidence? Today on Word of Mouth: does the internet spell the fall of religion? Or is it more of a correlation than a cause? Plus, we peruse the new release section of the bookstore and notice a trend, Catastrophe 1914, 1914: History in an Hour, 1914: Fight the Good Fight. A look into the downside of treating years as celebrities.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments


amazon.com, girlsofatomiccity.com, hisotry.ucsd.edu & poetryoutloud.org

Happy Monday, everyone! Halfway through April and the nice weather is finally here. There's a little bit of every subject on today's Word of Mouth. We start with science, move to a look into women's history, and even have lesson in physical fitness before concluding with poetry. Put on your headphones and listen today's show, then join the discussion on our Facebook page!

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments

In 2004, the Center for Women in Government released a report about women in top appointed positions in all 50 state governments. NH ranked last in percentage of such appointments. After a back and forth with Gov. Craig Benson’s office, NHPR's Raquel Maria Dillon reports, an updated survey then placed NH seventh. 

hmoloshok / Flickr Creative Commons

With two stubborn, diametrically opposed sides, the country’s abortion debate has moved very little in either direction since Roe v. Wade 40 years ago. While polls indicate most Americans do not support overturning the landmark supreme court decision to allow abortions, many do support some limitations on the procedure. And it’s in this direction that many state legislatures have swung recently, with a record number of restrictions passed since 2010.  While this trend is changing the landscape for abortion access in some parts of the country, New England continues to be an exception.

Chance Agrella / Flickr Creative Commons

In his State of the Union address, President Obama lamented that women make 77 cents to every dollar a man makes. A new bill in New Hampshire looks to narrow that gap. However, disagreement remains about what’s behind the difference, whether it’s the choices that women make, outright discrimination, or a combination of these and other factors.

GUESTS:

Image courtesy Smith College

This year marks the 50th anniversary of poet Sylvia Plath’s death by suicide, the singular lens through which many readers and academics have viewed her life, writing, and marriage. Now, a new generation is re-discovering Plath from a fresh perspective, one not colored by her sad and macabre death. 

LHJ.com

Magazines like Good Housekeeping and Ladies Home Journal have been published since the late 19th century. In the late 1950s and early 60s, readers could find serialized fiction and serious non-fiction sandwiched between recipes for Jell-O salad and housework how-to’s. Now, high circulation women’s magazines hardly include long-form pieces at all, much less excerpted novels, or hard-hitting journalism.

Laura Vanderkam writes for City Journal.  Her article “Journey Through the Checkout Racks,” explores this shift in content found in women’s magazines, and what it means for its target audience.

skippyjon via flickr Creative Commons

In May of 2012, feminist blogger and pop culture critic Anita Sarkeesian launched a Kickstarter campaign called “Tropes Versus Women in Video Games.” 

Anita asked for $6000 to make a video series analyzing gender roles in video games; identifying and exploring tropes like “the sexy sidekick” and “the mercy killing.” She raised the money in one day – and eventually raised $158,000. The project’s first video, “Damsel in Distress Part One” hit YouTube in March.

A new book aims to tell the stories of some of the most remarkable women in the history of Portsmouth, from colonial tavern keepers to nationally-known artists, politicians, philanthropists and more.

It's called Portsmouth Women: Madams and Matriarchs Who Shaped New Hampshire's Port City.

The book's editor, Laura Pope, talks with All Things Considered host Brady Carlson about some of the women featured in the book.

Leo Reynolds via flickr Creative Commons

In this special edition of Word of Mouth: Girl Power Interrupted.

girlsofatomiccity.com

The story of the development and deployment of the atomic bomb is generally told as a narrative driven by powerful men like Oppenheimer, Truman, and Stimson, operating at the highest levels of government. What few people know is how many women played a crucial role – albeit unknowingly – in one of the most significant turning points in history. Denise Kiernan interviewed several women who worked in Oak Ridge, Tennessee – a secret, government-built town created as part of the Manhattan Project. Their stories, combined with detailed reporting, come together in her new book called The Girls of Atomic City.

drinksmachine via Flickr Creative Commons

Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO hit series Girls, recently signed 3.5 million dollar book contact for a memoir. When published, Dunham’s book will share shelf space with bestsellers like Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened:  A Mostly True Memoir and Heather McDonald’s My Inapropriate Life: Some Material Not Suitable For Small Children, Nuns Or Mature Adults.  Part humor, part memoir, books in this category are almost always written by women and openly explore sex, drinking and even mental illness in a brazen and unrepentant manner.  And readers, especially those that are not offended easily, are snapping them up. 

Jean Railla, a writer and cultural observer is here to tell us more.  

Related: Gawker's viral blog about Lena Dunham's book deal.

Wonder Women!

Mar 12, 2013
via wonderwomendoc.com

Wonder Woman has yet to be the subject of a major motion picture. Until now…sort of. “Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines” is a documentary that follows the character from her Amazonian origins to that campy TV show in the 70s to her following among punk rockers, suburban girls, and even Gloria Steinem. The documentary is screening tonight at Concord’s Red River Theatre and will make its broadcast premiere on PBS’s Independent Lens series on April 15th. Kristy Guevera-Flanagan directed the film and joins Word of Mouth to talk about it.

Girl Rising” is a new documentary directed by Academy-Award nominee Richard Robbins and the centerpiece of a global campaign called 10X10 (“Ten Times Ten”), which is dedicated to educating and empowering girls. The film is premiering this Thursday, March 7th, at hundreds of simultaneous public screenings across the U.S, including one at Fox Run Stadium in Newington, New Hampshire.

bisongirl via flickr Creative Commons

Women are a growing part of the debate over gun rights and potential new gun laws – partly because there are growing numbers of women who own and use guns. Erica Goode is a national correspondent on criminal justice issues for the New York Times; she wrote about the rising number of female gun owners this week, and she joins us as part of NHPR’s series on guns, “A Loaded Issue”.

Sonia Blanco via Flickr Creative Commons

2012 has been a fantastic year for funny ladies on television. Comedians Chelsea Handler, Whitney Cummings, Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler and Joan Rivers all star in their own shows. A number of lesser known laugh-out-loud women are reaching new audiences with self-produced podcasts, and networks are paying attention. 

Jean Railla, a writer and cultural observer based in New York City tells us more.

Badass Nuns

Nov 20, 2012
griffintech via Flickr Creative Commons

Pop culture has a pretty good store of gleeful nuns along with plenty of repressed, vindictive sisters and mothers superior.  The stereotypical nun is neither action hero, rockstar or Klan fighter. That’s why we found a recent list of gutsy nuns in Mental Floss so intriguing.

Clay Wirestone is a freelance writer who compiled a list of some of history’s bravest and boldest nuns for the December issue.

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