Informed by her research on the history of teenage girls’ culture, Forman-Brunell analyzes the babysitter, who has embodied adults’ fundamental apprehensions about girls’ pursuit of autonomy and empowerment. In fact, the grievances go both ways, as girls have been distressed by unsatisfactory working conditions. In her quest to gain a fuller picture of this largely unexamined cultural phenomenon, Forman-Brunell analyzes a wealth of diverse sources, such as The Baby-sitter’s Club book series, horror movies like The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, urban legends, magazines, newspapers, television shows, pornography, and more.
Forman-Brunell shows that beyond the mundane, understandable apprehensions stirred by hiring a caretaker to “mind the children” in one’s own home, babysitters became lightning rods for society’s larger fears about gender and generational change. In the end, experts’ efforts to tame teenage girls with training courses, handbooks, and other texts failed to prevent generations from turning their backs on babysitting.
Miriam Forman-Brunell is Professor of History at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. She is the author of Made to Play House and general editor of ABC-CLIO’s Girlhood in America. She is also co-director of Children and Youth in History.
Girls have been commodified, idealized, trivialized, eroticized, and shaped by the powerful forces of popular culture, from Little Women to Barbie. Yet girls are also powerful co-creators of the culture that shapes them, often cleverly subverting it to their own purposes. From Pocahantas to punk rockers, girls have been an integral, if overlooked and undervalued, part of American culture.
With a new introduction by Anthony Arnove, this edition of the classic national bestseller chronicles American history from the bottom up, throwing out the official narrative taught in schools—with its emphasis on great men in high places—to focus on the street, the home and the workplace.
Known for its lively, clear prose as well as its scholarly research, A People's History of the United States is the only volume to tell America's story from the point of view of—and in the words of—America's women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, the working poor, and immigrant laborers. As historian Howard Zinn shows, many of our country's greatest battles—the fights for a fair wage, an eight-hour workday, child-labor laws, health and safety standards, universal suffrage, women's rights, racial equality—were carried out at the grassroots level, against bloody resistance.
Covering Christopher Columbus's arrival through President Clinton's first term, A People's History of the United States features insightful analysis of the most important events in our history.