Weinbaum, Batya 1952-
WEINBAUM, Batya 1952-
PERSONAL: Born February 2, 1952, in Ann Arbor, MI; daughter of Jack (a physician) and Barbara (a psychologist; maiden name, Hyman) Weinbaum; children: Ola Liota. Ethnicity: "Jewish." Education: Hampshire College, B.A., 1976; State University of New York at Buffalo, M.A., 1986; University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Ph.D., 1996. Politics: "Left, feminist." Religion: Jewish.
ADDRESSES: Home—1610 Rydalmount Rd., Cleveland Heights, OH 44118. Offıce—Department of English, Cleveland State University, RT 1832, Cleveland, OH 44115. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Educator, poet, novelist, and essayist. Vermont College, Norwich, teacher in adult degree program, 1983-85; Burlington College, Burlington, VT, instructor, 1996-97; Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH, assistant professor of English, 1998—. Writer-in-residence, University of Illinois and Champaign/Urbana, 1985. Presenter at conferences; lecturer. Cofounder, National Women's Studies Association Feminist Mothers and Their Allies task force. Also worked as a photographer.
MEMBER: National Women's Studies Association.
AWARDS, HONORS: Rabinowitz Foundation grant, 1976; Robbins Flemming Fund grant, 1977; Women's Heritage Award, 1990, for Searching for Peace on Hostile Grounds; Golden Poet Award, 1993.
The Curious Courtship of Women's Liberation andSocialism, South End Press (Boston, MA), 1978.
Pictures of Patriarchy, South End Press (Boston, MA), 1983.
The Island of Floating Women (short stories), Clothespin Fever Press (San Diego, CA), 1993.
Islands of Women and Amazons: Representations andRealities, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 2000.
Searching for Peace on Hostile Grounds: InterviewingGrassroots Women in Israel, 1989-1999, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 2003.
Sasha's Harlem (novel; part one of trilogy), Pyx Press (Sylmar, CA), 2004.
Jerusalem Romance, East Coast Editions (Longmeadow, NY), 1993.
Fragments of Motherhood (includes prose), Angel Fish Press (East Montpelier, VT), 1996.
Mexico in Motion: Actions and Images, Angel Fish Press, 1997.
Contributor of poetry to periodicals, including Meydele, What She Wants, Buffalo Mountain, Mother-tongues, Birth Passages, Flower, Counterpoint, Catharsis, Old Crow, Town Crier, Spectrum, Mountain Laurel, Feminist Review, Key West Review, and Heresies. Contributor of articles, stories, and reviews to periodicals, including Spectrum, Journal of Progressive Judaism, Extrapolation, Foundation, Frontiers, Multicultural Education, What She Wants, Science-Fiction Studies, Signs, Magic Realism, MELUS, Quill, Phoenix Rising, Anything That Moves, Journal of Feminist Therapy, Kibbutz Trends, Peace Review, Off Our Backs, Popular Photography, World, Second Wave, Iowa Woman, Midwivery Connection, Common Woman, NWSA Journal, Counterpoint, and Women's Studies International Forum. Founding editor, Femspec.
WORK IN PROGRESS: "The Nightmares of Sasha Weitzman," a trilogy about Jerusalem; ethnographic research on resistance to interdisciplinary multiculturalism and women who break the gender molds in academe.
SIDELIGHTS: Batya Weinbaum is a feminist educator who has also spent many years as an observer and commentator on the cultural manifestation of gender differences. Her first published book, The Curious Courtship of Women's Liberation and Socialism, was prompted by a trip she took to South America while in her early twenties, and her thoughts on the role gender plays in both politics and religion—and her view of the inequities that result—have been the substance of her work since. In addition to her feminist works, Weinbaum also writes and publishes poetry, and has a novel, 1993's The Island of Floating Women, to her credit.
Raised in an intellectual family, Weinbaum first attempted to start a career as a photographer, but her life changed in 1962 when she was confronted by an armed rapist. As she told Off Our Backs contributor Carol Anne Douglas in an interview: "At first I was scared, then I heard a line from Sartre in my head: you cannot intimidate a man who knows he is going to die. . . . The line gave me courage to fight, which I did by talking—I said whatever came into my head, and somehow this really scared him." This incident, which gestated in Weinbaum's subconscious for several years, proved to be her inspiration for writing. "I write," she told Douglas, "so that someone else might have a line in their head when they are about to die, or even when they are just in misery." Although she pursued her photography for several more years, Weinbaum ultimately returned to the academic sphere, and has worked actively in feminist and socialist intellectual communities ever since.
In The Curious Courtship of Women's Liberation and Socialism, Weinbaum mixes a thoughtful stew of feminist, socialist, and psychoanalytic theory to put forth the theory that Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and other "fathers" of twentieth-century socialist thought in fact are male-oriented on issues relating to gender equality. In Women and Politics Annette M. Bickel praised the work as a "forceful and provocative" analysis of feminist and socialist ideology.
A more recent work, Islands of Women and Amazons: Representations and Realities is a detailed examination of the Amazon archetype as it has been used in the ancient Greek world, in Asia, among pagan cultures, and in nineteenth-and twentieth-century art and literature. From serving as a heroic symbol to the ancient Greeks, the image of the woman warrior was gradually altered by writers such as Herodotus, and in many manifestations of the image in later cultures it was sullied, emblematic perhaps of a patriarchal triumph over women. In twentieth-century culture the Amazon was rekindled in the wake of feminist consciousness-raising, bringing to fruit such Amazon icons as comic-book character Xena, and a host of literary characters. Choice reviewer S. A. Inness praised the book as "especially comprehensive" and found Weinbaum's approach to be "engaging and carefully researched." Calling Islands of Women and Amazons "a book for feminists to pour over, to savor, and to keep within arm's reach when teaching or writing," Utopian Studies contributor Linda L. Kick added: "While Weinbaum admits to having explored only a portion of available literature and cultural practices, readers of her book will be amazed by, and grateful for, the breadth and promise of her interdisciplinary scholarship."
Weinbaum told CA: "I usually start writing to try to catch something that is going on in my life that I want to understand. Then, as I progress through this process, my desire is to make life clearer and less confusing for those who read what I wrote. That is, I began my first book, The Curious Courtship of Women's Liberation and Socialism, when I was in Chile interviewing and photographing women for UNICEF News, and I didn't understand what was going on around me in the socialist coalition government headed by Salvador Allende, Unidad Popular. Then, as I returned to the United States and did extensive library research, my desire was to make the relationship between these two political movements clearer to those who hadn't had the opportunity as I did to try to write and understand. I have come to recognize this process and its stages in any major book project I undertake, whether it is discovering the struggle for peace in the Middle East or the nuances of discrimination in academe.
"During the writing process I take a lot of quickly jotted notes, and then have to go back and retype them. I show drafts to people. Eventually I send out to publishers and journals. I also present at conferences or read my works in public to develop a piece."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice, July, 2000, S. A. Inness, review of Islands ofWomen and Amazons: Representations and Realities, p. 223.
Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 8, 2000, Zina Vishnevsky, "Seeking Zena's Sisters in Legend of Amazons."
Journal of Research on Mothering, spring, 2002, Gail M. Lindsay, review of Islands of Women and Amazons.
Lambda Book Report, January-February, 1994, Judith Katz, review of The Island of Floating Women, p. 36.
Off Our Backs, August-September, 1979, interview with Weinbaum, p. 22; October, 2000, Carol Anne Douglas, review of Islands of Women and Amazons, p. 16.
Utopian Studies Journal, Volume 11, number 2, 2000, Linda L. Kick, review of Islands of Women and Amazons, pp. 305-307.
Women and Politics, Volume 2, numbers 1-2, Annette M. Bickel, review of The Curious Courtship of Women's Liberation and Socialism, p. 145.*