Setting the Stage: A Manifesta for Feminist Discourse

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Dear Reader,

The word “feminism” no doubt triggers a hundred different images in your head, and sadly for many, a good portion of them are likely to be pretty nasty.  In today’s world, feminism has become something of a dirty word.  A terrible stereotype of the feminist has emerged: she’s ugly and resentful, she’s a dyke, a misandrist, a bitch, she’s running around without a bra and waiting to yell at you for looking at her tits, she’s bitter, fanatical, and she can’t take a joke.  The resistance against feminism can be overwhelming, and it comes from men and women, young and old, for a variety of reasons.  Those reasons are complicated, important, interesting, and a little ridiculous.  Undoubtedly, we will talk about them at length on this blog.

But for now, let us say this: We are here as young people of the world who are confident in their choice to identify as feminists.  We are here as feminists who want to talk, intelligently and rationally, about making a more just world for the children who are growing up into it.  We are here as students and people who are invested in bringing about equality for genders, so that people of all genders can be freed of the restrictive expectations and stereotypes of the gender binary, imposed upon them based on a simple accident of their birth.

We understand the difficulty of the job ahead of us; It is particularly hard to write about feminist issues because it is hard to be passionate and ardent while simultaneously being composed and articulate. It is hard to uncover an injustice without seeming hostile and bitter. The job of the activist is to deftly navigate the fine line between ranting and inspiring, exposing inequality while still making the cause accessible to all. It’s a tough gig. A professor of mine once wrote on my paper that I needed to “dial back the ire.”  At first I balked at this. Then I realized how true it was.  It is incredibly difficult, and incredibly important, to write with passion, but without ire.

Writing about feminism can also, at times, feel like shouting into a vacuum.  It feels like everyone who will agree with you already does, and everyone else is immovable. When an injustice seems glaringly obvious, it can be exhausting to spoon-feed someone Feminism 101. It is draining to have to hold people’s hands and prove to them that feminism is not some massive conspiracy theory in a world where two thirds of the world’s illiterate are women and we are still arguing over the definition of rape. And we forget, too easily, that some people do not come from backgrounds that supported critical thought about gender politics.  And when we forget this, we forfeit the opportunity to engage those people in the ongoing conversation that is feminism.

Feminism is for everyone, and if we believe that, we must be willing to commit to rational discourse, no matter how frustrating or fruitless it may seem. As feminists, we will scream and rage at the heartbreaking realities of living in a world that is, all too often, overwhelmingly misogynistic.  And then we will check ourselves, gather our thoughts, and figure out how to fix it.  You can’t make the world a better place by yelling at it. And you can’t make the world a better place by grumbling about what a dumbass you think everyone who disagrees with you is.

Another challenge of feminism is a direct result of its scope. Feminism involves everyone. “Feminist issues” are men’s and women’s issues, and so they are simply people’s issues. So how does one speak to and for an overwhelmingly diverse group of people, each with their own, unique experience with gender and feminism? None of us, the writers of this blog, can speak for all women or all men. We will write as individuals and we will be forthcoming and considerate of the specific perspective we have of the world.  We promise to be cognizant of the privileged position we are in as American citizens and New York City residents and educated youth, and we promise to constantly engage our faculties of self-awareness to this end.  In return, we expect readers to respect the work we are putting forth.  Some of it will be creative and emotional, some of it will be intellectual and analytical.  All of it will be honest and genuine.

Our hope is that this blog becomes a part of a cogent and productive discussion about feminism today, feminism for young people, and feminism as a powerful force in the world.  The blog will be a space for all our members to voice their opinions about specific feminist issues, and to voice their unique perspectives.

This is how we are setting the stage.

Sincerely,

Isabel Cristo and Priya Dieterich

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One thought on “Setting the Stage: A Manifesta for Feminist Discourse

  1. Congrats, Isabel and Priya on your new blog. I so look forward to hearing all that you and the other members of your group like to say. The world needs female voices to tell these stories.

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