The Public Humanist

The Public Humanist contributor: Susan Eisenberg

Susan EisenbergSusan Eisenberg is a multidisciplinary artist and educator, and is currently Visiting Artist/Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, where she focuses on projects that address patient-centered medical care and employment equity. She has developed two touring exhibits: the photographs and poems of Perpetual Care, and the mixed media installation, On Equal Terms. Her website is:

Women and Labor in Poetry and Prose

It is not uncommon to hear of women who are carpenters or line workers being told on their first day by the foreman, “I will run you off of this job before this week is over.”


Nitwits of 1963-ers?

“The training will be good for those nitwits.” I winced, but said nothing, then mulled over my silence and “nitwits” for weeks. The speaker was describing the 2-hours of required harassment training for the electrical maintenance department at Massport, a quasi-public agency that oversees three airports (including Boston Logan), and the port. Those permanent, well-paid jobs everyone wants.



Those Dummies books can be really useful when you just need to know enough to keep a conversation going, have questions you’re embarrassed to ask, or when a rudimentary level of knowledge is adequate. Building a Website for Dummies, HomeMaintenance for Dummies, Wine for Dummies — I get those. I had a hoot of a time at a conference I spoke at once in Reno, betting craps with a woman who’d studied Craps for Dummies on her plane ride from Colorado Springs.


Tyranny of Cheerfulness

When a major earthquake struck the Bay Area in 1989, I phoned my friend Sue in Oakland to find out if her home had been affected. My call went to voicemail. A positive message, recorded for all their worried out-of-town friends and family, assured: “We’re fine. Everything here is fine.” But the flatlined tone of Sue’s voice alarmed me. I kept calling, until I got the human Sue, who still sounded like she was in shock.


On Equal Terms: Young women vocational students face their futures

I thought I’d already heard it all, so I was surprised at how suddenly raw I felt, reading what one vocational-technical high school student had written on a yellow sticky note: “Your [sic] never going to make it.” I guessed that she was quoting the words of her shop teacher. I’d entered union construction in 1978, when affirmative action first opened the gates to women, and pioneers were often greeted with “the full welcome wagon.”