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August 09, 2007

YearlyKos Coverage - The Next Wave of Feminism

After years of seeing little active public awareness of feminism, I can report that another wave is coming and it is thrilling and inspiring.  The young women writers I heard talk on panels and later met were of another, newer age – completely confident that they get to talk about the importance of equality and reproductive justice and willing to take on injustice both to them and to their sisters of color. 

They are on the early side of creating a movement and still figuring out what their version will look like.  I am so looking forward to seeing what it is and connecting as appropriate.

Women Not Included in the 2006 Blue Wave

Several weeks ago, Chris Bowers wrote a disturbing piece on the fate of women candidates that had stuck in my mind and caused the entire issue of feminism to come front and center after many years of quietude.  It was quite simple.  In what was called the “Red to Blue” program, the DCCC provided assistance to promising candidates in districts held by Republicans in an effort to move those districts to the Democratic column. 

Of the 30 candidates, 19 were men, 11 were women.  Eighteen of the 19 men won; only one of the eleven women won.

Now, you tell me if there is anything outside of sexism that can account for that huge a discrepancy.  Plus, we saw the nasty, sexist ads that Darcy was targeted with here in this district. 

Where Did Feminism Go?

So, I’d been wondering what the heck was going on in the world when women’s issues – equal pay, choice, the lack of public support for parenting – don’t get discussed in the public arena; when pharmacists could get away with refusing to dispense pills for women, when women candidates lose in a blue wave year. 

I talked to several national women bloggers at YearlyKos about why they don’t write about women’s issues.  Across the board they said, “We won’t be taken seriously.”

What is it with this?

Outrageous Young YearlyKos Panelists

So, I went to two panels about women’s issues.  One was called “Women Bloggers” and the second was called “Blogging While Female”.  In both cases, the panelists were quite young; they were pretty much the cream of the feminist blogging community and the women’s movement of our age – Jessica Valenti of “Feministing.com”, Gwenn Cassidy of “Real Hot 100”, Latifa Lyles of NOW, Joan Blades of both MoveOn.org and MomsRising.com, Aimee Thorne-Thompson of the Pro-Choice Education Project, Garance Franke-Ruta of the American Prospect, Amanda Marcotte of “Pandagon.com”, and Gina Cooper of YearlyKos.

The rest is over the fold.

For starters, these women are doing amazing things in the world.  Jessica has a very robust blog with a ton of front-pagers, writing about issues of concern to women, particularly young women.  When she spoke, she kept reminding folks that we are not including women of color sufficiently and we need to do that.  Gwenn created a site and a list of “The Real Hot 100”, young women from around the country doing incredible things in their every day lives as a way to offset the image the public and young girls get about the importance of appearance. 

Aimee works on what she calls reproductive justice for women 18-14, a nice, new term, far more descriptive than pro-choice.  Joan, one of the founders of MoveOn.org, is now working with Northwesterner Kristen Rowe-Finkbeiner to spread the word about how badly women with children fare in this country and how important it is to redress that.  Latifa, membership director for NOW, is focused on a new round of consciousness-raising, using the massive powers of the Internet to get women to take action on issues of concern to them. 

Garance, senior editor of the American Prospect, is one of the intellectual powerhouses of our time.  Amanda is a primary writer at another of the key new women’s blogs, Pandagon.  And Gina is the person who had the foresight and persistence to bring YearlyKos into being. 

It was inspiring.  These women, several of whom I’d heard of but none of whom I really knew much about, are connected to each other and are starting to build a movement that we will be hearing a lot more about. 

They talked about how they together got 60,000 people to write emails asking that Don Imus be fired for his outrageous comments about women and people of color.  They worked with the older, more established women in NOW who talked with the owners of the station.  I hadn’t realized how concerted that effort had been.  It was a relatively new effort for this new wave and it worked.

What Happened?

I’m mulling over something Gina said on the panel that helped me clarify how we had lost so much ground as feminists over these last three decades.  She said something about “the cultural backlash against the whole PC thing.”   I had been aware that there had been something that had consistently squashed the focus on feminism and racism and class issues between the time I had been active in the late sixties and early seventies and now – when it is considered passé to bring up such quaint, old-fashioned ideas. 

That comment (and I don’t really know how she meant it) made me realize how they did it.  We know that the right funded conservative “intellectuals” and placed them in “think tanks” and then got the media to take them seriously.  No question now in my mind that the entire frame of “politically correct” came out of that systematic effort. 

What Next?

So there I am, jumping up and down, thinking about how we can connect this wave of feminists with the previous generation, about how they can get organized enough to be able to rally to the defense of the women candidates facing huge amounts of overt and covert sexism in their campaigns. 

Above all, I was aware of how robust and solid these women are.  I don’t see much obvious vulnerability.  They are riding on our shoulders and we can be proud of what we accomplished and the paths it has laid down for this new generation of feminists.  And I believe they will kick butt and I, for one, intend to help them in whatever ways I can.

Talk; share your thoughts.

Posted by Lynn Allen on August 9, 2007 at 02:35 PM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink


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