Susanna J. Sturgis    

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Where Is Feminism?

This isn't an ongoing project; this is an noodge that's been poking around the back of my brain in recent months. It'll snooze for weeks, then it'll wake and start muttering stuff like "You really could do this" and "It could be interesting" and "Wouldn't you like to find out?" Evidently the noodge is as exasperated as I am by the shallowness of feminism as practiced in U.S. public life, notably politics and the media, progressive as well as commercial. Feminism has been reduced to a laundry list of "women's issues." It's become static. But at heart feminism is dynamic: it's a method for identifying issues and solving them from the ground up, all the while keeping women in the foreground.

My fantasy, my hope, is that there are feminist projects out there, women doing interesting and creative and effective things in their communities, and that their experiences and achievements should be more widely known. I want to go looking for them. A few bookstores, presses, centers, festivals, etc., survive from the heyday of the "second wave." That's where I'd start. I'd be looking not only for "stand-alone" projects but for feminist enclaves within not-particularly-feminist organizations. In the writing, I'd be both describing these various enterprises and testing the insights and theories I've been gestating over the years about how communities work and how to bring about self-sustaining change. What I'm really dreaming about is an independent feminist movement that is strong enough and courageous enough to keep mainstream political organizations and movements -- like the Democratic Party, the gay-male-dominated GLBT coalition, and the Greens -- honest.

What would it take? Time and more disposable income than I've got now, which is to say -- a grant? a book contract? I imagine tooling around the country with Travvy riding shotgun, listening to women who are doing interesting things. We'll see.

 

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