Felicia Kornbluh


Felicia Kornbluh is an Associate Professor of History and of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at the University of Vermont.  She served for six years as Director of the GSWS Program at UVM and as a Commissioner on the Vermont Commission on Women and President of United Academics, the UVM faculty union (AFT/AAUP).  She has worked for congressional committees and think tanks in Washington, D.C.  Kornbluh holds a B.A. from Harvard-Radcliffe and a Ph.D. from Princeton University.  Her books include The Battle for Welfare Rights (2007) and Ensuring Poverty: Welfare Reform in Feminist Perspective (forthcoming, 2018).  Her articles have appeared in a wide array of academic and non-academic journals. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

Recent news about sexual harassment and violence have lit up every point in the political heavens. The most discussed stories touch mainstream Democrats, like Harvey Weinstein; conservatives like Roger Ailes; left-liberals, like Al Franken and John Conyers; and nominally Republican President Donald Trump, himself.

Many Americans were surprised that some of the most militant responses to the proposed Republican health care plan came from disability activists – who staged a “die-in” outside the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that resulted in a woman being removed from her wheelchair as she was arrested. But in fact, the disability rights movement has for decades employed a battery of tactics, including mass protest and civil disobedience.

I called my mother just before 11 o’clock Election night. I didn’t know the final outcome of the presidential election. But I saw the close races in Michigan and North Carolina and knew things were bad for Democrats and feminists. My mother, Beatrice Braun, is both. She’s 88. She served in the original lawyers’ network that became the NOW Legal Defense Fund. The state law legalizing abortion in New York was written in my parents’ living room – three years before Roe v. Wade. We only spoke briefly because she found it all just too upsetting.

March is the month Americans recognize as Women’s History Month. But in this age of leaders like Hillary Clinton, some people wonder if we still need women’s history.