First of all, I have to throw it out there that this is my first time hosting a blog carnival! So if I forget something or do something wrong, be gentle and let me know! I organized this carnival on my last day off because I wanted to take time for us as a movement to lift up the voices of the younger generation. We are here, we have a variety of opinions, and we want to be heard. So, I’m going to write my first blog update responding to what I’ve been reading…
Over at Boredom is Counterrevolutionary (a sentiment with which I totally agree, btw), Thomas explained how at 18, he was harassed for being a nurse in a gendered feminine profession. Instead of griping, Thomas realized that hey, like, women face this every day and that is messed up. He started taking action in his community and what I love is that he points out the number of ways we youngfems take action:
“From simple acts of wearing feminist t-shirts, tweeting on twitter calling passive sexism where I see it, writing letters to companies that promote sexism to working with Amnesty International for Stop violence against Women campaign and other feminist groups to try to make real change.”
Maybe older fems don’t see tweeting or wearing t-shirts as activism, but we know better.
Shelby at the Ms. Education of Shelby Knox hits home when she shares her reaction to the many women who claim young feminists don’t exist:
“Each time, it feels like a personal jab. I know or have met many of the older leaders who propagate this myth and I wonder, “Did you forget the conversations we’ve had about organizing in high schools and on college campuses? Are the young women who run your websites and table at your events and stuff packets for your conferences really invisible or do they just mean that little to you?”
I think of a lot of us can relate to Shelby here. We do work in the movement, often unpaid work that older women don’t want to/can’t do, and then we’re erased. Why struggle against gender oppression if your fellow fighters don’t acknowledge you? This is exactly why I organized the carnival–so we can acknowledge each other.
Shelby hits on another important point–the privilege of calling yourself a feminist. I didn’t come to the term until graduate school, and many of my college-educated friends wouldn’t call themselves feminists. There is a distinct privilege in being able to 1) feel included in the movement and 2) be able to have your contributions valued in the movement. As a white, cis, overeducated woman, I can claim that privilege. But guess what? A lot of people are working for justice out there who don’t use the F-word (my partner being one). That does not mean their contributions aren’t important! We need allies of all types in the movement for justice (which, largely, is what I would argue that feminism is–a movement for justice that sees the world through an intersectional lens).
At GAB, besides an awesome photo of Emily eating a burger, she touches on something I’ve seen a lot related to this issue: “Young people in the U.S. may still have the impression that feminism is about hairy arm pits, burning bras, and hating men.”
This is definitely an issue I face with the general public–but it’s a battle we are letting them win. We are letting society define feminist, as well as the movement’s past. I’ve had many people tell me they don’t want to call themself a feminist because they think it’s an anti-male position. Personally, I disagree. But I can see how they get there from early radical lesbian feminist thought. Still, I may live in Texas and call myself a Texan, but that doesn’t mean I go to rodeos and wear cowboy boots and love beer. But I still enjoy being a Texan, just redefined by me as someone who is friendly, outspoken, and laughs easily. To me, a vegetarianish, wine-drinking, liberal, being a Texan may seem like hostile territory. But once I got here, I realized that I can take what is important to me about Texanism, and leave the rest.
I believe that we can also do this with other parts of our identity–including faith, politics, and social movements. I accept that I will disagree with my feminist friends, and I accept that they can still claim feminism even if they want to leave one or two aspects of it behind.
Okay, I’m off to read more posts! Be back soon with another update!