Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Today I wore purple

Children, young people, are dying. They are so alone, so afarid, tormented and fearful that they see no way out, no better way. They take their own lives. Homophobia killed them. Hatred killed them.

Today I wore purple, along with students and faculty at Sierra College, to raise awareness, to start a take an ever-so-small stand.


The Trevor Project
Reach Out

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Status of American Electra?

Recently Susan Faludi wrote a controversial piece in Harper's Magazine (October 2010). The article, "American Electra: Feminism's ritual matricide" , has elicited a great deal of response in the feminist community--most notably from active young feminists. I share the frustration of many bloggers who have responded to Faludi, who seems to argue that the only goal of third-wavers in feminism is to discard older feminists. This is hardly my experience. While there are indeed issues of conflict intergenerationally, I rarely encounter feminist women my age (or younger) who don't care about, or recognize, the work of women before them. I don't think it is about disregarding 'veteran' feminists as much as it is about wanting to be listened to as well. To continue this movement we must foster an exchange of ideas and an appreciation for our generational realities. I wrote extensively about intergenerational feminism and intergenerational partnerships in my book Fight Like a Girl. In a chapter addressing these very issues I argued "to foster intergenerational leadership is to recognize the contributions that young activists have to bring to the table while honoring the work and perspectives of those who have built the modern movement. It is both of these sets of experiences and perspectives that collectively strengthen and further the women's movement." It is an exchange that is needed, not a further pitting of young vs. old that Faludi seems to perpetuate.

I also agree with bloggers that argue that Faludi's mis-characterization of young feminists as focused on popular culture, sexual escapades, and shopping is, as Jennifer Baumgarder responds, "as accurate as saying that, after 40, a woman is more likely to be killed by a terrorist than find a husband." As the writer and teacher of a new class at my college entitled "Feminism and Social Action," I witness every week the energy, the engagement, and the political awareness of students. They bring their activism into our discussions, into their assignments, and out into our community (a community by the way that constitutes some of the most conservative political attitudes in the country).

Having been a leader in the National Organization for Women (NOW) I certainly confronted entrenched authority that refused to incorporate young feminist activism beyond a supportive role. I have long since left the organization and therefore can't speak specifically to the O'Neil-Lyles election. However, I would hesitate to point to NOW as the primary resource for what young feminist activism looks like today, or as an example of intergenerational leadership. Instead I would encourage Faludi to take another look at bloggers who use the internet as a venue to vet ideas, raise consciousness, and organize. I would encourage her to look in community college classrooms all over the country that are bridging academics with community and civic engagement. Or to community-based activism that is challenging environmental racism, fighting for better access to health care, working for solutions to homelessness, or raising awareness of queer youth experiences. The examples are endless. And feminist activism is everywhere.

Here are a few blog responses to Faludi's article:
Reported by Maya on Responding to Susan Faludi: On mentoring and “being seen” and Jennifer Baumgardner on

Monday, October 4, 2010

Reclaim the name!

This is a student project from one of my students at Sierra College. Join her campaign!