wJun 14, 2009

Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future

We read this book for my non-genre book club.

In general, this book about Third Wave Feminism promises to analyze what's up with Second vs. Third Waves, criticize popular culture, set an agenda of goals, and essentially do what its title suggests: write a feminist manifesto.

While I found most of the book at least relatively interesting, our book club in general (myself included) disliked it because its structure was so disorganized and we felt that it was too broad to really address issues that we wanted it to address. It was also irritating that the authors continuously name-dropped their close friends/acquaintances/former jobs. For a book that's trying to grab people who might not yet refer to themselves as feminists, it seems to almost go out of its way to make it so that readers cannot identify with the authors.

On the positive side, reading this book got me to buy my first copies of the magazines Bitch and Bust.

I was annoyed because the book constantly made references to (apparently common) feminist texts and people and events who I have never read/heard of. Yeah, it sucks that I was never taught about them in school, but it makes this supposedly introductory text inaccessible to me.

The book did an okay job at addressing issues that affect people of color and people who identify as LGBT. The book made a lot of good points, like Gerda Lerner's note that repeatedly throughout history, women keep learning a feminist history, and then losing it - we keep cycling through the same practices over and over, and must learn our own history to propel our progression.

What pissed me off the most about this book was that every time the authors discussed a feminist who had said anything even remotely positively pro-life, they wrote the woman off as not being a real feminist at all. This is troubling to me for obvious reasons - I am Catholic and pro-life, and I am also a feminist.

To disagree with someone and then tell them that because of their thought process, you have the power to take away their ability to identify as a feminist? Firstly, it's not your power to begin with; secondly, what the hell kind of a feminist are you?

I'd like to reference RaceFail here, because it was a huge, sprawling discussion that took place in public. Constantly throughout RaceFail, people were told, "Dude, you said something racist." The accused would freak out, saying, "I'm not racist! I'm not racist!" and the accuser would say, "I'm not calling you racist; I'm not saying you're not anti-racist; I'm saying that you said/did something racist."

In that example, people doing the calling out were not trying to steal parts of people's identities, not even labeling them as racist people. They were zeroing in on what was said, dissecting it, and trying to teach.

If you want to teach and try to change my mind, go ahead and do that. But slapping me in the face and telling me that I can't be a feminist at all is not going to change my mind: in fact, it'll probably make me hate you just a bit.

On the thread of changing minds, what's up with this strategy, anyway? Don't feminists want allies who get it to be infiltrating everywhere? We should want feminists in government, in churches, occupying spaces and making connections with people in places that most feminists don't want to be in/bother with.

So for someone to try and rob me of part of my identity because we disagree on one issue? I really don't know what to say, except for, "Well, fuck you, too."

I know I had a problem with this in Jessica Valenti's Full Front Feminism, too. One day I'll find current feminist books just for me! :O

Sometimes Necessary Abortion Disclaimer
This post is not actually about the ethics of abortion! If you would like to participate in such a discussion, please host one in your own blog. This post is about identities and the naming of groups and a book I read. Thanks.

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scribbled mystickeeper at 11:32 PM

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