It is critical to know when women's movements have failed or could have done better, whether it be in reaching their audience, coping with infighting, or especially when they were not and needed to be more inclusive. I believe that only by learning from past mistakes and listening to the outcry of all groups of women today, can we truly form a movement that will attempt to work for all women regardless of sexuality, age, race, and/or class.
I have gathered a series of quotes that I found helpful and worth sharing. This is the first in a series that will feature books that are shaping me as an artist and activist right now.
There were important reminders for women of multiple generations.
"Today many disavow the term 'feminist,' but often what is being rejected is a narrow and distorted version of feminism that bears little resemblance to the rich and varied feminist philosophies of the past. Many who do not use and even reject the term 'feminism,' have nevertheless been feminists--that is, they have been part of the long struggle for women's rights." (page xvii)
"Anne Draper's (a garment worker organizer, 1971) call for a living wage still resonates in the twenty-first century, as does the larger reform agenda of her generation of social justice feminists. They believed in sex equality and would have applauded the progress women today have made toward that goal. At the same time, they remind us that the women's movement needs to be about more than sex equality. Economic disparities among women are extreme in the twenty-first century, and without decent jobs and sufficient income, dignity and real freedom for most women will remain elusive. They wanted to make it possible for women and men to have fuller, more satisfying lives at home and on the job. It's still not too much to ask." (page 64-65)
"The single most important feminist theoretical contribution to social theory was the concept of gender, i.e., the social structures and meanings attributed to sex difference. Distinguishing social from biological factors, 'gender' would ultimately give rise to many other challenges to practices once believed to be natural. Even discriminatory practices were often considered the inevitable consequences of being a woman....To speak of gender signaled that women's subordinate position was not natural but socially, economically, and culturally constructed. Understanding sexism as learned--taught, like racism, to children from their earliest years--meant that it could be unlearned. It followed that what had been constructed by humans could be deconstructed and replaced with greater freedom and equality." (Page 85)
There were many reminders that spoke directly to my involvement with feminism today and my need to do better.
"Despite their best intentions and despite their conscious opposition to racism, their priorities and assumptions sometimes blinded them to the situation of women of color and poorer women." (Page 92)
And sections that spoke to my everyday life these days, and our most recent experience at the polls (even though this book was published in 2014).
"Women are told they are empowered and that no obstacles remain in their path, yet each day they face covert and overt sexist attitudes--as well as epidemic rates of gendered violence--that confirm that this is still very much a man's world. Girls grow up believing that one day they can be president of the United States, but we have yet to elect a woman president (or vice president), women remain a disproportional minority in the U.S. Congress, and those who run for office often face virulent misogyny that sends the message that politics is still an old boy's club." (page 169)
And in a quote from Rory Dicker and Alison Piepmeier, "We need a feminism that is dedicated to a radical, transformative political vision, a feminism that does not shy away from hard work but recognizes that changing the world is a difficult and necessary task, a feminism that utilizes the new technologies of the Internet, the playful world of fashion, and the more clear-cut activism of protest marches, a feminism that can engage with issues as diverse as women's sweatshop labor in global factories and violence against women as expressed in popular music." (page 172)
The next book featured will be The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander.