- i'm totally brain-crushing on liss at shakesville today. this piece on the myths about female friendship gets a big amen from me
. she breaks it down beautifully and eloquently, as always.
- tim wise at alternet offers a stunning thought experiment showing how white privilege functions in the cultural conversation about the tea party protests.
- chloe at feministing talks here about michael kimmel, a great male ally.
for those of us who struggle to understand and talk to some of the dudes in our lives, this has some useful bits. and i'm really curious to read his book now. (as an aside, i want to find and deprogram the asshole mentioned briefly here who wouldn't let shelby knox into a UT frat party because she was "too fat." fucking seriously?)
- i have mixed feelings about stephanie herold's piece about how young feminists are awesome and mostly online.
many of the young feminists she interviewed are doing some badass stuff, and that's awesome. but i kind of feel like she's saying that online feminism is What We Do nowadays, that this is the official third/fourth/wtf-ever wave way to do feminism, and i think that's reductive and short-sighted. you know i loves me some interwebs. email is great. blogging is great. twitter... is okay. online tools that allow you to email your representatives in one click are fine. but these days, it's necessary but not sufficient. for example, unless you have a compelling personal story to go with it, sending a boilerplate email to your state rep or member of congress is not very effective anymore precisely because it's trivially easy; they know that, and they value it accordingly. they've got to get an avalanche of such emails for it to make a difference, and for that to happen, you've got to be hooked in with an interest group, at least to the extent that you're on their mailing list.
saying brilliant things online is wonderful, but it's just one part of a larger struggle. it's not a substitute for voting, running for office, donating to or volunteering for pro-woman candidates, donating to or volunteering with pro-woman organizations, writing op-eds or letters to the editor, offering workshops, calling people out at your workplace or holiday dinner table, or any of the other million ways to do feminism. i don't think it is true that we're "mostly" online, but if that were the case, then frankly, i don't think we would be doing our share.
i'm sympathetic to her irritation at older feminists for
clinging to their power and excluding younger women from leadership positions
talking smack about how younger feminists are lazy or nonexistent or don't get it. it's really damn annoying. i have been tempted many times to write to certain big national feminist groups (hell, most of them) something like:
"hi there! i worked for your organization for free! a lot! i do a whole helluva lot of feminist work! i weave it into my everyday life, and i also do a nontrivial amount of all that formal stuff you talk about. now that i have money, i give it - to women candidates and feminist nonprofits. i go to lobby days, i track bills, i harass my friends and family to call/write/vote... i play the game exactly how you say it should be played, and you know what you haven't done? you're so busy thinking about *your movement*, you can't see that it's *ours* now, and you haven't asked me what i think or care about. if you have asked, you haven't listened or incorporated what i say, because i'm just a kid and what do i know? you haven't offered me a spot on a committee where i can make a difference, because, hey, we've already got one feminist under 40, do we need more? and while you're happy for the organization to take credit for what i accomplish, you don't listen when i say here's how we can do more and better. and on and on and on.
so hey, feminist leader who's all 'i'm kind of a big deal,' get the fuck over yourself. have you ever thought that maybe there are things YOU don't get? work on your intersectionality. listen to your younger colleagues. i have about a million more suggestions, and am available to discuss them. <3 me."
whew, check the pent-up anger there. see? i really do get why she's frustrated. but it's not okay to just be like, "i took my toys and went to the internet, so EFF YOU, ellie smeal/kim gandy/gloria feldt/dolores huerta/whomever! we younger babes will just do feminism in our little online sandbox!" that's no way to effect change. it's hard, and it sucks to feel like you're fighting your own organization/movement at the same time you're fighting everyone else. heaven knows i'm aware of this. but if we want big, structural things to change, like health care infrastructure, pay inequity, laws about violence against women, etc, we've got to use every tool at our disposal.
note that i'm not saying every feminist must take part in every kind of activism. i'm addressing this article in this way specifically because it explicitly purports to be a state-of-the-movement update. the internet is one tool in the box. but it isn't the whole box, and it can't and shouldn't be. i grant you it's kind of a swiss army knife - it works for conversations, fundraising, keeping people informed, linking up members of small groups spread over large areas (trans* folk in particular have used it to great effect), all kinds of things. but have you ever tried to use your swiss army knife screwdriver to put in or take out more than one screw? it kind of sucks, doesn't it? i bet you went and got your regular screwdriver or even a fancy battery-powered one, because you know what? there are other tools made specifically for that purpose that work better for that job. and if you're trying to dismantle the master's house, there's a big damn lot of things that need doing, and they cannot all be done with a single tool.