WGS IAP Course:

I love the 80s & 90s - Cult Classics: When Women Ruled the Big Screen

Before Sex in the City, Twilight and The Hunger Games became movie franchises, we had a long history of strong, complicated, and kick-ass leading women in film. Feminist film critics often lament the end of the "good old days" when women were presented as strong, capable, intelligent and complex characters (you know...human). During this IAP series we will examine the portrayal of women in cult classic films of the 80s and 90s. After the films we will ask: How were women portrayed in these films? What messages did we receive about what it meant to be a young woman during that time? What are the major themes of the films? Has anything changed since then? How are people of color portrayed in these films? Um, are there people of color in these films? What stereotypes are maintained and/or challenged in these films? Did these film break any barriers? Finally, why do these films have such a strong cult following?

For film screening dates and to register please go to:

MIT Program in Women's and Gender Studies, Student Activities Office and Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies present a REG DAY film screening of...

How To Lose Your Virginity
directed by Therese Schechter

Monday - February 3, 2014
BLDG [ 6-120 ]

FEMALE VIRGINITY. The US government has spent 1.5 billion dollars promoting it. It has fetched $750,000 at auction. There is no official medical definition for it. And 50 years after the sexual revolution, it continues to define young women's morality and self-worth.

This hilarious, eye-opening, occasionally alarming documentary uses the filmmaker's own path out of virginity to explore its continuing value in our otherwise hypersexualized society. Layering vérité interviews and vintage sex-ed films with candid self-reflection and wry narration, Shechter reveals myths, dogmas and misconceptions behind this "precious gift." Sex educators, porn producers, abstinence advocates, and outspoken teens share their own stories of having - or not having - sex.

In a culture where "Be sexy, but don't have sex" is the overwhelming message to young women, the film goes through the looking glass to understand a milestone almost everyone thinks about but no one actually understands.

66 minutes. Free and open to the public.

Q&A with director Therese Shechter and WGS professor A. Walsh to follow.

MIT Program in Women's and Gender Studies presents...

"The New Soft War on Women: How the Myth of Female Ascendance Is Hurting Women, Men and Our Economy"
lecture presentation by Professors Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett

Wednesday - February 12, 2014
BLDG [ 32-155 ]

For the first time in history, women make up half the educated labor force and are earning the majority of advanced degrees. It should be the best time ever for women, and yet... it's not. Storm clouds are gathering, and the worst thing is that most women don't have a clue what could be coming. In large part this is because the message they're being fed is that they now have it made. But do they?

In The New Soft War on Women, respected experts on gender issues and the psychology of women Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett argue that an insidious war of subtle biases and barriers is being waged that continues to marginalize women. Although women have made huge strides in recent years, these gains have not translated into money and influence. Consider the following:

  • Women with MBAs earn, on average, $4,600 less than their male counterparts in their first job out of business school.
  • Female physicians earn, on average, 39 percent less than male physicians.
  • Female financial analysts take in 35 percent less, and female chief executives one quarter less than men in similar positions.

In this eye-opening presentation, Rivers and Barnett offer women the real facts as well as tools for combating the "soft war" tactics that prevent them from advancing in their careers. With women now central to the economy, determining to a large degree whether it thrives or stagnates, this is one war no one can afford for them to lose.

Free and open to the public.

MIT Anthropology, Foreign Languages and Literatures, the DeFlorez Fund and Women's and Gender Studies present...

"Alien Citizen: An Earth Odyssey "
performance by Elizabeth Liang

Friday - February 21, 2014
[ 6-120 ]

Who are you when youíre from everywhere and nowhere? Alien Citizen: An Earth Odyssey is a funny and poignant one-woman show about growing up as a dual citizen of mixed heritage in Central America, North Africa, the Middle East, and New England.

Elizabeth Liang, like President Obama, is a Third Culture Kid or a TCK. Third Culture Kids are the children of international business people, global educators, diplomats, missionaries, and the military--anyone whose family has relocated overseas because of a job placement. Liang weaves humorous stories about growing up as an Alien Citizen abroad with American commercial jingles providing her soundtrack through language confusion, first love, culture shock, Clark Gable, and sandstorms... Our protagonist deals with the decisions every global nomad has to make repeatedly: to adapt or to simply cope; to build a bridge or to just tolerate. From being a Guatemalan-American teen in North Africa to attending a women's college in the USA, Alien Citizen reflects her experience that neither one was necessarily easier than the other. She realizes that girls across the world are growing into womanhood in environments that can be hostile to females (including the USA). How does a young girl cope as a border/culture/language/religion straddler in country after country that feels "other" to her when she is the "other?" Where is the line between respecting others and betraying yourself?

Free and open to the public.

Refreshments at 6PM. Performance at 7PM.

MIT Program in Women's and Gender Studies and Science, Technology and Society, Anthropology and History invite you to an...

MIT Symposium on Gender + Technology

Saturday - February 22, 2014
8AM Registration
[ 32-D461 ]

This symposium convenes faculty and students producing work on feminist science and technology studies. The purpose of this symposium is to highlight the productive intersections of science and technology with feminist theory, anthropology, and history. Feminist theory in STS has critically engaged questions of scientific ideology, institutional power, difference, and epistemology ñ- attending not only to gender but also race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, ability, post-coloniality, queer theory, and more. The three guiding themes of this symposium -- Labor, Sex/Bodies, and Data -- foreground attention to gender and other structures of inequality wrought in and through technological practices.

Organized by Renee Blackburn and Mitali Thakor, doctoral candidates in the MIT Program in History, Anthropology, + STS.

Information regarding the program, abstracts, and registration can be found on the website:

MIT Program in Women's and Gender Studies and Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies celebrate Black Herstory month and the fifth annual Women Take the Reel film festival with a screening of...

Free Angela and All Political Prisoners
directed by Shola Lynch

Friday - February 28, 2014
BLDG [ 6-120 ]

Angela Davis joins the Communist Party, protests with the Black Panthers, and becomes a principle spokesperson for the burgeoning prison reform movement. As a result, she finds herself fighting to keep her job, and in the national media spotlight characterized by her many detractors as a dangerous subversive menace, and by her supporters as a strong leader challenging authority and boldly advocating for "Power to All People." On August 7th, 1970 Angela is implicated in the politically motivated kidnapping and murder of a judge in a brazen daylight shootout at the Marin County, CA courthouse. Angela flees California, convinced she will not be given a fair trial and is placed on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. After a national manhunt she is captured two months later in New York City. Charged with murder, kidnapping and conspiracy, Angela is put on trial in one of the most sensational court cases of its time. After a two-year legal battle, an all white jury acquits her on all charges in 1972. You know her name. Now, you will finally know her story.

101 minutes. Free and open to the public.

Q&A with Professor S. Alexandre to follow.

MIT Program in Women's and Gender Studies and Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies present a Women Take the Reel film screening of...

After Tiller
directed and produced by Martha Shane and Lana Wilson

Friday - March 7, 2014
[ 6-120 ]

After Tiller intimately explores the highly controversial subject of third-trimester abortions in the wake of the 2009 assassination of practitioner Dr. George Tiller. The procedure is now performed by only four doctors in the United States, all former colleagues of Dr. Tiller, who risk their lives every day in the name of their unwavering commitment toward their patients. Directors Martha Shane and Lana Wilson have created a moving and unique look at one of the most incendiary topics of our time, and they've done so in an informative, thought-provoking, and compassionate way.

85 minutes. Free and open to the public.

Q&A with Melanie Zurek, Executive Director of Provide, and long time reproductive rights activist Susan Yanow to follow film screening.

MIT Program in Women's and Gender Studies and Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies present a Women Take the Reel film screening of...

American Revolutionary: The evolution of Grace Lee Boggs
directed and produced by Grace Lee

Friday - March 14, 2014
[ 4- 270 ]

What does it mean to be an American revolutionary today? Grace Lee Boggs is a 98-year-old Chinese American woman in Detroit whose vision of revolution will surprise you. A writer, activist, and philosopher rooted for more than 70 years in the African American movement, she has devoted her life to an evolving revolution that encompasses the contradictions of Americaís past and its potentially radical future.

The documentary film, plunges us into Boggsís lifetime of vital thinking and action, traversing the major U.S. social movements of the last century; from labor to civil rights, to Black Power, feminism, the Asian American and environmental justice movements and beyond. Boggsís constantly evolving strategyóher willingness to re-evaluate and change tactics in relation to the world shifting around heródrives the story forward. Angela Davis, Bill Moyers, Bill Ayers, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Danny Glover, Boggsís late husband James and a host of Detroit comrades across three generations help shape this uniquely American story. As she wrestles with a Detroit in ongoing transition, contradictions of violence and non-violence, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, the 1967 rebellions, and non-linear notions of time and history, Boggs emerges with an approach that is radical in its simplicity and clarity: revolution is not an act of aggression or merely a protest. Revolution, Boggs says, is about something deeper within the human experience--the ability to transform oneself to transform the world.

As it kinetically unfurls an evolving life, city, and philosophy, AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY takes the viewer on a journey into the power of ideas and the necessity of expansive, imaginative thinking, as well as ongoing dialectical conversation, to propel societal change. In an age when seemingly insurmountable injustices and contradictions face us, AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY inspires concerned citizens and dreamers of all ages with new thinking to sustain their struggle and engagement.

82 minutes. Free and open to the public.

Q&A with UMass Boston Professor Marlene Kim, and Northeeastern University Professor Bonnie TuSmith to follow film screening.

MIT Program in Women's and Gender Studies and Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies present a Women Take the Reel film screening of...

director Kim Longinotto

Friday - March 21, 2014
[ 6-120 ]

When Salma, a young Muslim girl in a south Indian village, was 13 years old, her family locked her up for 25 years, forbidding her to study and forcing her into marriage. During that time, words were Salmaís salvation. She began covertly composing poems on scraps of paper and, through an intricate system, was able to sneak them out of the house, eventually getting them into the hands of a publisher. Against the odds, Salma became the most famous Tamil poet: the first step to discovering her own freedom and challenging the traditions and code of conduct in her village.

As with her other work (PINK SARIS, ROUGH AUNTIES, SISTERS IN LAW), master documentarian Kim Longinotto trains her camera on an iconoclastic woman. Salmaís extraordinary story is one of courage and resilience. Salma has hopes for a different life for the next generation of girls, but as she witnesses, familial ties run deep, and change happens very slowly. SALMA helps us understand why the goal of global education of girls is one the most critical areas of empowerment and development of women worldwide.

89 minutes. Subtitled. Free and open to the public.

Q&A with Professor Harleen Singh, Associate Professor of Literature and Women's and Gender Studies at Brandeis University to follow.

MIT Program in Women's and Gender Studies and Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies present a Women Take the Reel film screening of...

Forbidden Voices: How to Start a Revolution with a Computer
director Barbara Miller

Friday - March 28, 2014
[ 4- 270 ]

Their voices are suppressed, prohibited and censored. But world-famous bloggers Yoani S·nchez, Zeng Jinyan and Farnaz Seifi are unafraid of their dictatorial regimes. These fearless women represent a new, networked generation of modern rebels. In Cuba, China and Iran their blogs shake the foundations of the state information monopoly, putting them at great risk.

This film accompanies these brave young cyberfeminists on perilous journeys. Eyewitness reports and clandestine footage show S·nchez's brutal beating by Cuban police for criticizing her country's regime; Chinese human rights activist Jinyan under house arrest for four years; and Iranian journalist and women's advocate Seifi forced into exile, where she blogs under a pseudonym. Tracing each woman's use of social media to denounce and combat violations of human rights and free speech in her home country, FORBIDDEN VOICES attests to the Internet's potential for building international awareness and political pressure.

96 minutes. Subtitled. Free and open to the public.

Q&A with MIT Researcher Catherine D'Ignazio to follow film screening.

MIT Program in Women's and Gender Studies and Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies present a Women Take the Reel film screening of...

Off and Running: A Very American Coming of Age Story
director Nicole Opper

Monday - March 31, 2014
[ 6-120 ]

With white Jewish lesbians for parents and two adopted brothers ó one mixed-race and one KoreanóBrooklyn teen Avery grew up in a unique and loving household. But when her curiosity about her African-American roots grows, she decides to contact her birth mother. This choice propels Avery into her own complicated exploration of race, identity, and family that threatens to distance her from the parents sheís always known. She begins staying away from home, starts skipping school, and risks losing her shot at the college track career she had always dreamed of. But when Avery decides to pick up the pieces of her life and make sense of her identity, the results are inspiring. OFF AND RUNNING follows Avery to the brink of adulthood, exploring the strength of family bonds and the lengths people must go to become themselves.

60 minutes. Free and open to the public.

Q&A with film director Nicole Opper to follow film screening.

MIT Women's and Gender Studies presents the Spring 2014 McMillan Stewart lecture on women in the developing world...

Feminism and Democratization after the Arab Spring
w/ Valentine M. Moghadam
Director, International Affairs Program
Professor of Sociology, Northeastern University

Thursday - April 17, 2014
[ 3-133 ]

Is democracy good for women? If so, why? Is it because of some intrinsic features of democracy as a political system that makes it best suited for the attainment of women's full citizenship and gender equality? Or is it because of mobilizations that take place during democratic transitions or democratization episodes, which may lead to women's empowerment, albeit given the presence of other factors and forces? And what are those factors and forces that result in successful, women-friendly democratic transitions and consolidation?

The presentation is part of an ongoing, larger project comparing the Arab Spring to other instances of mass social protest leading to major political change and new constitutions. The focus is on Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia, which I compare with each other and with other "third wave" democratizations - southern Europe, Latin America, southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and South Africa. Similarities and differences across the three countries are examined, with updates on developments in each country, and implications for theory, policy, and politics.

Valentine M. Moghadam joined Northeastern University in Boston as Director of the International Affairs Program, and Professor of Sociology, in January 2012. She was previously at Purdue University. Born in Tehran, Iran, Dr. Moghadam received her higher education in Canada and the U.S. In addition to her academic career, she has been a senior research fellow at UNU/WIDER in Helsinki, Finland (1990-95), and a section chief at UNESCO in Paris (2004-06). Dr. Moghadam's areas of research are globalization, revolutions and social movements, transnational feminist networks, and gender in the Middle East and North Africa. Among her many publications are Modernizing Women: Gender and Social Change in the Middle East (1993, 2003, 2013), Globalizing Women: Transnational Feminist Networks (2005, winner of the American Political Science Association's Victoria Schuck Award), and Globalization and Social Movements: Islamism, Feminism, and the Global Justice Movement (2009, 2013). Her current research is on democratization after the Arab Spring.

Free and open to the public.