I’ve had this post saved in my drafts for over 5 months now. I was fearful of posting it out of the high possibility that I could offend many of the people that inspire me to be a better activist. Though some of these sentiments have shifted, I realize now how important this personal statement is to my development as a feminist since my journey abroad. And so, I hope that when you read this you understand I am critiquing a system rather than individuals or white, middle class feminist women.
A professor of mine once said that the United Nations is a community of white, male non-retires thus making it difficult for others to enter the system and create change. I have come to believe the same holds true for the feminist community in NYC, except they are a group of predominantly white, middle class women.
When I left for Costa Rica last year, I simultaneously disengaged myself from the feminist community in the United States. My experiences in NYC and LA had made me resent the world of feminism. I saw many powerful feminists have their voices hidden by mainstream feminist outlets because they chose not to focus on commonly discussed topics such as reproductive justice, or sexualities. And though I witnessed many well-known leaders within the feminist community who were supportive, they didn’t want to share their power in order for the younger generations, women of color, working classes etc so that they may be recognized. I was tired of feeling let down, and sometimes ridiculed, by those whom I looked up to. Of course, there were exceptions and some strong friendships have been made.
While I believe passionately about the many causes and fights within the movement, I can’t help but get the sense that this is a community in the United States that heavily focused on recognition. Though there is an immense amount of support, it’s often followed by sentiments of, “I know better and, I can do this event, job, petition, etc better.” The companionship that I’ve found has often been about self gain - who can I mentor, how can I get my name through the door, who is the best person to network with for this project.
But I don’t think this “problem” has to do with individual people, rather it is the effect of the system in which feminism and feminists exist within. The United States, especially NYC, is a competitive place and it takes a long time to get your foot in the door. Of course, once you have gained access and recognition the thought of someone else taking your place is daunting and so people hold on tightly, almost perpetuating the system that they experienced as activist and writers in their twenties. Hello! Why is it that the same women have been running the largest and most well-known feminist organizations (i.e. Ms.) for such a long period of time without passing the torch to others?
As much as we say there is an increasing focus on intersectionality within feminist circles in the United States, we need to put more emphasis on our communities and ask ourselves how we move forward in a way that encourages mutual learning and respect between all ages, classes, genders, races, etc within feminism. How do we empower younger generations, women of color, working classes, etc to do the feminist work that they love as a career path without continuing a cycle that perpetuates competition over teamwork and growth?
In November, More Magazine released a piece on Young Feminists today. The article was followed by a panel at the 92nd St Y Tribeca which had a significant amount of press that allowed important conversations on womanhood to spread across the country.
Having just moved to the west coast after the photo shoot for the article, I was largely disappointed that I would be unable to attend the More panel in New York City.
In an attempt to open up the conversation on the East Coast, I sent multiple emails to More mag reps… even told them I would organize it all by my lonesome. Sadly, I was told that the LA was an interesting idea but More wasn’t going to put their names on it.
Oh wellz! Like that was going to stop me!!! Check this out and RSVP:
Young Feminists Speak Out: Los Angeles
Thursday, January 20, 2011 · 6:30pm - 10:30pm
Livity Outernational2401 Lincoln BlvdSanta Monica, CA
Morgane Richardson, who was featured in the article, and two outstanding women from the Feminist Majority Foundation, Miranda Petersen and Myra Duran, recognized the importance of keeping the conversation going and have organized a panel/mixer on Young Feminism in Los Angeles.
We will start the evening off at 6:30 with some eclectic music by the Sun Warshippers and then head into a panel discussion + Q&A with Young Feminists from the LA area.
Stay till 10pm to mingle with feminists, listen to a some cool beats, and meet new people!
Special Thanks To:
Livity Outernational for donating the space
Ms. Magazine for sponsoring the event and helping to promote it
MixtapeMedia for helping with promotion and all things social media
The Sun Warshippers for performing and DJing
Myra Duran, Feminist Majority Foundation Campus Organizer
Miranda Petersen, Feminist Majority Foundation
Morgane Richardson (http://www.morganerichards on.com/ and http://www.refusethesilence.com/)
DONT FORGET TO RSVP!: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=178224072197533¬if_t=event_wall#wall_posts