If I actually knew how to post (let alone find) sound clips, it would be right around here that I would find the clip from The Lion King where Rafiki says “IT IS TIME!” …for our book discussion, of course, not for Simba to mount Pride Rock (wow that sounds a lot more dirty than it probably should.)
Since this is our first go at a book discussion, I figured that I would have a new post each day this week that raises different questions to spur discussion on different topics raised in the book. Even if you haven’t read the book (Not My Mother’s Sister: Generational Conflict and Third Wave Feminism by Astrid Henry) I encourage you to participate in the discussion. All voices are welcomed, all I ask is that we remain respectful. Onward!
After trudging through the book, you may wonder why I chose it to kick-off our blog and the reason lies within this quote taken from its pages:
“By and large, third-wave essays and anthologies published at the end of the twentieth century suggest that younger feminists feel quite tentative about their place within history and their ability to make history and effect change” (75).
EEEEEEK!! I know that the book is academic and therefore seen by some as slightly tedious (coughcoughkeylimecough) but I chose it because I think there is a strong value in that message–there is power in association and disassociation with previous feminist movements, and we should periodically look backat our accomplishments and admire history and know that we can still make history. In the end it does a disservice to all to pretend we aren’t part of something bigger than ourselves. And that’s why I wanted to start with this book as a way of opening conversation about what this “feminism” thing stands for, past, present, future and beyond. I hope that the discussions that follow will lay the foundation for other books to follow.
Here are a few questions for kick off:
- “The work of third-wave writers suggests that coming to feminism as children has deeply influenced the ways in which they experienced feminism. A feminism acquired in childhood feels substantially different than one chosen later in life” (49). Henry often talks about third-waves inheritance of feminism, that we were born with feminism “in the water.” In generations before, if you were to take the label of feminist it was considered radical whereas now it is often denounced. Is the term feminist passe? Unnecessary? Do you use the term feminist to describe yourself and what does it mean to you? Does holding that title carry responsibility? By rejecting the label do we deny the lengthy process that it took to get here?
- Due to the “feminism in the water” I believe many young women were raised as feminists , yet didn’t have the tools or vocabulary to realize that it was feminist. “Like other young feminists of color, she depicts a childhood in which she was raised to be strong and independent, but one which she only interpreted as feminist after it ‘intellectually clicked’ much later” (174). Oftentimes feminism is still seen as Feminism Capital F, loftily perched in the ivory tower. Could the “feminism in the water” be a good thing then, bringing its ideology “to the streets” as it were, perhaps not in name but in action? (Does it need the name?) How did you arrive to feminism? What was your ‘click’ moment?
- Henry discusses the prevalent third-wave idea that as a feminist I cannot speak for anyone outside my own understanding as a (middle-class straight white girl) and how this is in stark contrast with the “sisterhood is powerful” language of the second-wave. But by only being able to speak for myself, am I thus forced to deny or ignore race/sexuality/class since I “cannot understand” (isn’t that a denial of differences that need to be addressed?) or do I have a “responsibility” as someone with “power” (white/straight/middle-class) to help those who “don’t have a voice” (isn’t that presumptuous of me to speak for others?) Is the third-wave “don’t speak for others” mentality better than the second-wave “we’re all the same!” mentality?
More to come tomorrow, but let’s dive into these today…