Redstockings, Riot Grrls, Three Generations of Feminism in Conversation

Redstockings, Riot Grrls, Three Generations of Feminism in Conversation


I’m Arnold Lehman. I’m director of the Brooklyn
Museum for those of you I don’t know. And it is actually a very great honor, I think
that’s the right word, and an equally great delight to have you all here today to celebrate
something very important to the Brooklyn Museum. Very important to the City of New York and
I think very important to everyone who’s thinking about things. And that is the third anniversary
of the opening of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. Before I go any further,
I just wonder if it would be an imposition to ask to those people scattered about there,
if you would be willing to move forward. If you’re not, not to worry. But it just sort
of is, it would just seem, it’s so much easier when a crowd or audience is together rather
than scattered like this. We are, as you very well know because you got here competing with
the most gorgeous day of the entire year. Not that that’s a good enough reason not to
be here. But I’m glad you all are. Today while we very proudly look back on three years of
leadership and exceptional exhibitions, programs, and events, we also are celebrating feminism
and its future. And what better way of doing that than by inviting some of the most significant
voices in this dialogue from the past decade to join us here today, and looking forward
and in envisioning feminism’s place in the cultural world of the second decade of the
21st century and perhaps even beyond. In a moment I will invite our trustee and great
friend Elizabeth Sackler to introduce today’s speakers. But before I do, I’d like to take
a moment to thank Elizabeth for her incredible vision and commitment to the realization of
the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum. It hardly seems
possible that it’s been, I don’t know if it’s been a year or a decade, since Elizabeth and
I started brainstorming about building a center devoted to feminist art. From those earliest
discussions when we both knew that we wanted to do so and to find a permanent home for
Judy Chicago’s magnificent and iconic Dinner Party. Taking that all the way to the current
installation of Kiki Smith’s Sojourn in the fourth floor feminist art galleries. No one
could have had a more distinct, innovative or expansive conceptualization than Elizabeth
of what needed to be done. The accolade visionary is perhaps too often used today to acknowledge
forward thinking ideas. But in Elizabeth’s case, visionary is perhaps actually an understatement
in describing what she has accomplished here in collaboration with the Brooklyn Museum
and with those very many hardworking museum professionals who share this vision. And by
this point in time after these years here, everyone in this museum I believe does share
that vision. However, along with the word vision there could be no appropriate description
offered that did not also immediately and necessarily add the words vibrant, engaging,
powerful, and inclusive. While these might sound like the praise given to a new film
in a newspaper, here they are the very essence of what the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for
Feminist Art was both meant to be and has to our enormous delight become. It is, again,
with equal amounts of pride and pleasure, that I welcome our trustee, my very good friend,
Elizabeth Sackler, to the podium. Every year it gets better and better. Thank you. Before
you leave, I want you to stay here. This is an anniversary. This is a birthday, in many
ways. I don’t know whether or not we would call it an anniversary or birthday, but it
does mark a relationship. It marks the birth of a new life. And on birthdays and anniversaries,
we pay tribute to partners and to children, and we thank a person or people, without whom
there would be no cause to celebrate at all. So I want to take this opportunity, too, additionally,
and publicly thank my muse, Steve Robinson, and of course the great Judy Chicago, each
having actively participated at inception or conception, depending on how you look at
what we have done. But, I have to thank the man, who I say has become the father of this
great achievement of the Center for Feminist Art, and that, of course, that is Arnold Lehman.
So, for me, in gratitude to you, for your support, your enthusiasm, your coddling and
cuddling, your disciplining, your unconditional love. I am going to say that, because you
are, you are our biggest supporter, of what the Center is, what we do, and how we do it.
I’m going to present Arnold, which I have to duck down here and get, a very small token,
and a personal token, of my gratitude, to you and to the museum, but to you, especially.
So, I’m ducking down here, I’m pulling out a white bag. Oh my goodness. And giving this
to you, and you’ll have a chance to take a look at it more closely, but anyway, this
is for Arnold. Oh, how beautiful. Yeah, well, you’ll see. OK. But I’ll help you down the
stairs with it, maybe I can put it down there. But I want to thank Arnold, and I think we
should all thank Arnold. Because without Arnold, there would not be a Center for Feminist Art.
Thank you, Elizabeth. But it is Elizabeth. Well, actually, it’s, this is, it’s pretty
gutsy for me to do it, but it’s a monoprint, and it’s a monoprint that I made, actually,
in 2008, in Portugal, when I was taking a workshop there. And, when I made it, I did
it and I looked at it, and I drew, with a pencil afterwards, a little arrow that said,
underneath it, To Find a Perfect Man. Arnold is the perfect man. If I may say one thing,
we’re all friends here. I’m, this, came from that period of Elizabeth’s participation,
instead of the boxing. Yeah, I’m a boxer now. So, he doesn’t want to mess with me. So, for
the scores of you, and those who aren’t here, who might be enjoying this beautiful day,
I thank you for coming. But, you know that, my welcomes and introductions to all of our
panel discussions and programming, always begin with my saying, The Elizabeth A. Sackler
Center for Feminist Art is an exhibition space, permanent home of the Dinner Party, and feminist
art space. We are an educational facility, dedicated to feminist art, and our mission
is to raise awareness of feminism’s cultural contributions to educate new generations about
the meaning of feminist art, and to host lectures and discussions on feminist activism. That
is how I begin all of my welcomes and introductions, and today is no different than that. So, I’d
like to welcome you. This is a panel discussion celebrating the third anniversary of the Center,
and the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art is an exhibition space, permanent home
of the Dinner Party, feminist art space and education facility, dedicated to feminist
art and you know our mission. And I thank you so much for being here to support that.
One year ago, it was our second anniversary, I introduced Catherine Morris, Catherine’s
here, as our then new curator. Catherine, I just want to say it has been a real pleasure
working with you this past year, and I’m looking forward to many more years of collegiality.
You have brought excellence, you have brought intelligence, you have brought grace and enthusiasm.
And I want to thank you for all of that, because it’s really giving us enormous strength, and
possibilities for the future. And your staff, including Sarah Giovanelli, is she here? Sarah,
I just saw Sarah come in. Sarah’s been here, practically, since the beginning of time,
with the Center, and I want to thank you and your staff for everything you do. I know you
work tirelessly, and it’s very, very much appreciated. So I thank you. Radiah Harper,
I don’t know if she’s in the auditorium today, but even if she isn’t, I say to her, what
a journey. And I thank her, she’s head of the education department. I thank her for
her love of our mission, she has come to support, and facilitate, our vision, and the mission
of the Center, in a way that maybe, I couldn’t have anticipated three years ago when we began,
and it has been invaluable. Charles, Kevin, Cynthia, Sally, Adam and the board of trustees
of the Brooklyn, I thank all. We couldn’t exist without the commitment of all of those
people. And I also want to add my thanks and my love for the team of security guards here.
I’ve come to know them over the years. We broke ground, I don’t know, seven years ago?
And I know many of them, I don’t know all of them in the whole museum, but there are
about a half a dozen or so that I have come to know, and they’re very proud of the Center.
And they love engaging, and talking with people who’ve come to visit, and I consider them
to be a very lively part of the Center’s family. So, I just want to say that. On the homefront,
Rebekah Tafel, who is here, she’s sitting next to Catherine. She is with the Elizabeth
A. Sackler Foundation, and she has been brilliant. She’s committed to all that she does, she
knows everything that’s going on, and she knows everyone who is going on with everything
that we’re doing. And she’s fabulous to work with, it’s been a pleasure for me. She is
the future of the foundation, as is her endless participation, assisting in the Center’s growth.
She works very closely with museum personnel, and it’s been a pleasure, and I thank you,
Rebekah. This year marks the activation and organization of our Council for Feminist Art,
which is a very, very exciting thing for us. It’s a fantastic group, getting in on the
ground floor to help with the Center’s growth, and to enhance the acquisitions for the Center,
and, as far as I’m concerned, we have a goal. And the goal that we have is to collect the
most important collection of feminist art in the world. To have it, to house it, and
to hold it for future generations. So, thank you to our charter members, and those of you
who will, or might become members of the Council. We’re gonna be coming up with different tiers,
so we hope that we will be able to incorporate anybody who is interested in supporting different
aspects of the Center. After today’s panel, we’re gonna have a toast of wine at the Center,
for our third birthday, so I hope that you’ll join us. I’ve made a note here, and I wrote
it this morning, and I think it’s true. That, with this Center, we have broken a glass ceiling.
And we have challenged others, other museums and galleries to do the same, and I am proud
and pleased that today’s programming was shaped and organized by the Adult Programs team who
worked tirelessly throughout the year, assisting and facilitating the Center’s programming.
And that’s sort of a first. I have been sort of responsible for putting together our anniversary
programming, but this year Travelam Ong, and Elizabeth Kokay, who I’d like to thank very,
very much for your activation of this program today, and they’ve been instrumental in it,
and for Catherine’s participation, too. And so, today, we are seeing, as you know, Redstocking,
Riot Grrls, and Right Now, Three Generations of Feminism and Conversation. Moderated by
Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, featuring eminent panelists Alix Kates Shulman, Farai
Chideya, and Marisa Meltzer. Amy and Jennifer have worked together on various projects since
they met in 1993, as 22 year olds at Ms. Magazine. Jennifer was an intern at Ms., while Amy worked
down the hall in Gloria Steinem’s office. And Gloria has been an enormous, a huge wonderful
fan and friend of the Center. And it’s wonderful to have both Amy and Jennifer here. In October,
a book they cowrote about the state of the women’s movement, Manifesta, Young Women,
Feminism, and the Future, was published and served as the platform for a national speaking
tour which brought them to dozens of community groups, countless bookstores, and more than
200 universities and high schools. They founded Soapbox, Inc., I love that, Speakers Who Speak
Out, in 2002. Their second coauthored book, Grassroots, a Field Guide for Feminist Activism,
was published in 2005. Amy is the cofounder of the Third Wave Foundation. We have partnered
with the Third Wave Foundation in many different ways over the last few years, and she is also
the voice behind As Amy, an online column at, is it feminist.com or is it feminista?
It’s feminista. Hm? Feminista. Feminista.com. So, this is great, we have two. We have a
feminist.com and we have a feminista.com. So there are two dot coms that are rarin to
go here. This is terrific. I’m sorry, I lost my spot. The project director of Anna Deavere
Smith’s Twilight in Los Angeles, and the author of Opting In, Having a Child Without Losing
Yourself. That’s to be read. I have to give one to my daughter, she just had my third
grandchild. So I have to look for that. Jennifer writes for dozens of magazines, where are
you, Jennifer, I’m just, there you are. Hi. Including Glamour, The Nation, which we all
love, Real Simple, and Harper’s, she’s the creator of the I Had An Abortion project,
the author of Look Both Ways, Bisexual Politics, which was published in 2007, and Abortion
and Life, which was published in 2008. She is currently working on a film and awareness
project called I Was Raped. Amy and Jennifer live in New York with their families. And
before I invite them to come up, I would like to just say a few words and give you some
of my thoughts. I was looking at the cover of this, and the title of this, manifesta,
and feminista, and matron instead of patron of the arts. Because when people say I’m a
patron of the arts, first of all, I don’t consider myself a patron of the arts, but,
I say, Well, if I’m anything, I’m a matron of the arts. And they say, Oh, you’re being
so literal! And I say, Well, it is the literalness of words. Words are literal. All men are created
equal, meant then, all men are created equal, and of course we know they meant all white
men are created equal. In literature and in scholarly writing, the use of he and him meant
he and him. The idea that no, no, no, it really meant she and her was sort of a way of getting
around an embarrassment of what became a politically incorrect bobbedy bob debob, I won’t go on.
You all know it, but I think what the point is, how the ways in which language subverts
equality. And we are so accustomed to that that we sometimes don’t even notice it. So,
to my mind it’s not about fussiness. It’s really about accuracy. And I think, as we
attempt to take back the night, we must forever be diligent about taking back our language
as well as our wall space. So, with those few thoughts, please join me in welcoming
Jennifer and Amy. Thank you so much. So, that’s perfect. That’s the way you’re supposed to
say it. Right. I’ll be right there and, Amy’s on the stage right of us. I’m Jennifer Baumgardner.
It’s really a pleasure to be here. I’m going to introduce the panel and say a few words
to orient you a little bit more to Manifesta, Young Women, Feminism, and the Future, which
is celebrating its 10th year anniversary this year. And there’s a new edition of it. Amy
and I are really excited. It was a book we wrote. It was published in 2000. And when
it was published in 2000, we never dreamed that people would still be buying and reading
it. So, we feel very fortunate. I’m going to back up a little and say a little bit about
who Amy and I are because I think it says a little bit about feminism and how integrated
feminism is, just in the water, which is the phrase we use in Manifesta. It’s common in
a lot of ways, and its power has been there so long we often don’t even know it’s there,
even though we’re benefiting from it. That’s definitely true for Amy and myself. So, Amy
and I grew up in entirely different kinds of families, at least, superficially different
families, far away from each other. I grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, and she grew up
in central Pennsylvania. The superficial differences were that my parents were a nuclear family.
My parents met when they were in 7th grade, got married in college. They waited until
college. My dad was the breadwinner. My mom was the stay at home mother of three daughters.
Nonetheless, at a certain point in her life, basically, Ms. Magazine came into her life,
but the largest thing was that feminism came into her life. There were all these social
justice movements going on. She felt a little isolated from them in her home in Fargo with
her three kids. Ms. was suddenly at the grocery store, and it magnetized a lot of the conversations
and thoughts she had been having about her own life, namely, she wondered how much she
had really even chosen that life. She grew up wondering, thinking she could be a teacher
or a nurse. Her mom was a nurse, so she became a teacher. It didn’t even occur to her to
not take her husband’s name. And while she left her family and her husband, she wondered
if she had really tapped into all the potential of what could have been a passion for her.
What were her talents, and was she really expressing them? And so, I was born and raised
by a mom who was actively trying to figure out her identity. Amy’s mom, on the other
hand, left Amy’s father before Amy was born. Amy has never met her father, and this was
before there were MTV shows for teen single mothers, celebrating it. And so, Amy’s mom
was a single mother at a time when it didn’t have that kind of, maybe, occasional positive
or any sort of attention that wasn’t negative. In fact, when Amy’s mother left her father,
she was counseled by her parents and other people who were trying to do the best thing
for her to arrange an adoption. There’s no way that Amy’s mother could raise Amy and
do a good job. Amy’s mom said, No, I’m gonna raise her on my own, and she did. Our two
moms who had women’s groups and read The Women’s Room and kind of were being affected by feminism
at the same time. They also managed to express these two values of feminism that I think
are very important of Second Wave feminism that are very crucial. My mother threw laundry
strikes and refusing to pick us up when we called her and not making cookies, even though
the mom down the street made cookies and I was kind of embarrassed that my mom wouldn’t
make cookies for us. By making her labor, withdrawing her labor occasionally and making
her labor visible, it was making the things that women do visible, traditional women’s
work visible and maybe more valued and maybe more understood by her daughters. And while
it was embarrassing to me as a child, I now look back, and I’m really grateful that my
mom did do that and let us into her struggles. Amy’s mother, on the other hand, showed that
given the opportunity or the necessity women can do anything that men can do. She bought
the house and paid the mortgage. She bought the car. If there was a mouse, she trapped
it, and she put the mouse in the garbage. There weren’t jobs that were gendered in Amy’s
house because there wasn’t a man. And so that was a very liberating example in a lot of
ways for Amy to grow up seeing. There were other things, other reverberations, I guess,
of the fact that we were raised in these feminist households, and the one that is popping into
my head right now about Amy is that when she was about five, her teacher asked her, asked
the class if anyone knew how to sing the national anthem. Amy raised her hand, and she said,
I am woman, Hear me roar, In numbers too, because her mother had told her that that
was the national anthem. And in my household in Fargo for some reason we talked about abortion
rights a lot, like at the dinner table. That was like a big part of our conversation. And
the way it would play out in my life is that my Barbies were always getting abortions.
And I would go to school, and we would have to do speeches where people argue different
sides for a speech. And I would argue the pro choice side, but I was the only person
on my side. People were like, Why is that fourth grader always talking about abortion?
But, it was a reflection of these interesting feminist conversations that were going on
even in our homes. When Amy and I got to Ms. as 22 year olds, we were really both so thrilled
to be there. By this point we consciously called ourselves feminists. We weren’t just
kind of picking up on the reverberations. We were really thrilled to be in hubs, feminist
organizing. In a way, we were sort of thrilled to be the teacher’s pets of the Second Wave.
That’s sort of what someone called us once. It’s sort of true. It felt really great for
a while. We were the younger people in the room, providing the young feminist viewpoint.
For a while it felt so great, and it felt so powerful to get to be that one young feminist
in the room or those two young feminists in the room that we kind of went along with the
concept that, maybe, there weren’t that many young feminists. It was really just the two
of us. We’re so great. But, as we matured, we started to feel like there was more of
a conflict between what we were talking about in these Second Wave institutions that we
were really, really happy to be a part of and what was going on in the rest of our lives.
The conflict was really that we saw feminism all around us, and in fact we saw our peers,
men and women, living really feminist lives, whether they were using that language to describe
it. And expressing feminism in interesting ways and, maybe, in ways that our mothers’
generation would not have imagined for us. And so, the reason we wrote Manifesta was
in many ways to reconcile that conflict, to describe the feminism that we saw around us
and to document it for ourselves primarily, but for a generation, or to start doing that.
This wonderful thing happened when we wrote the book is that we got invited to go give
lectures at lots of colleges and high schools and community centers. And we got to learn
so much more from those conversations and from that touring than had even gone into
the book. And so, the book had this life that went far beyond what we wrote, and this conversation
about feminism just kept growing and growing and growing for us. That’s been really exciting
and an honor to get to continue to learn by having these conversations and this relationship
that feminism, knowing that you believe in feminism or trying to figure out feminism
really can provide. One of the things that’s been sort of interesting that’s happened to
Amy and I a lot as we’ve gotten slightly more prominent is that, I mean, we’re still not
prominent, so I’m always like does that sound weird? Slightly more prominent, is that when
women of the Second Wave who are older have died, like in the last decade actually, a
lot of very prominent Second Wave leaders have died. Betty Friedan, Andrea Dworkin,
June Jordan. Just a ton of very important people who were quite famous have died. And
when someone passes we do often get calls from journalists saying, So and so died and
they were so important for this one generation of feminism. They were leaders. And who are
the leaders in your generation? And we always think it’s so, almost insulting because they’re
calling us. But they’re like, We know it’s not you, but can you point us or give us the
phone number of who it is? We always say, You’re right, it isn’t us because, and then
we quote Alice Rossi from The Feminist Papers. Because the public heroines of one generation
become just the private citizens of the next. And we can all be the Betty Friedans and the
June Jordans of our community and of our lives nowadays. And that’s the wonderful thing.
But of all the progress that I think that we’ve seen because of feminism, and also it’s
a challenge to go on and make something with that gift we’ve been given of a more feminist
world. Now I’m going to introduce the panel. I’m going to start with Alix Shulman who’s
right here. The stage left person. For 40 years Alix Kates Shulman has been a feminist
activist in Redstockings, New York Radical Women and other pioneering women’s liberation
groups. And she’s a writer. An incredible writer. In 1971 her biography of Emma Goldman,
To the Barricades, was named an outstanding book by the New York Times. In the following
year she published Memoirs of an Ex Prom Queen. A novel portraying the sexual and social predicament
faced by young, middle class women in the prefeminist 1950s. It sold over a million
copies and it was issued recently under the aegis of the Feminist Classics series. And
I got to write the intro, which was a big honor. Besides four novels, she’s written
three memoirs. Most recently, To Love What Is, a book that recounts caring for her beloved
husband who’s suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2004. Besides being his primary caregiver
and blogging about it for Psycology Today, she’s working on a comic novel, her fifth,
about Second Wavers and their old age. Farai Chideya, who is to her right, or to the left
if you’re looking, has combined media, technology and social justice during her 20 year career
as an award winning author and journalist. She is a contributor to the public radio show
The Takeaway. And I listen to that all the time. And a frequent lecturer and consultant
on digital media strategy, corporations, universities and nonprofits. She recently and for quite
awhile hosted NPR’s News and Notes, a daily national program about African American and
African diaspora issues. She has won awards including the National Educational Reporting
award, a North Stars News Prize and a special award from the National Gay and Lesbian Journalist
Association for coverage of AIDS. She’s written three nonfiction books, Trust, Reaching the
Hundred Million Missing Voters, The Color of our Future, and Don’t Believe the Hype,
Fighting Cultural Misinformation about African Americans. She’s also the author of the novel
Kiss the Sky. Marisa Meltzer is the author of Girl Power, which was just released. Or
does it come out in May? No, it was released in early. Oh yeah, I was at the party. I’m
like, I just finished breast feeding. You were double booked that night. That was a
busy night. Girl Power, The Nineties Revolution in Music. And she’s the coauthor of How Sassy
Changed My Life. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Slate, Elle and Teen
Vogue. And she attended Evergreen College, and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.
So she’s always living in the really hip places. She is working on tons of things including,
she had to learn today that she has the first chapter of a novel on her blog Marisa, Marisa,
Marisa. She writes about feminism for Slate. And she most recently wrote about haul videos.
Do people know about this? That weird YouTube phenomenon where teenage girls do videos basically
about what they’ve bought at the stores. So she can talk about that. And she posts ephemera
to meltzer.tumblr.com, feminist ephemera, and she’s also working on a zine with Elizabeth
Spiridakis, called First Kiss, and is an anthology of first kiss stories. So, that’s the incredible
panel, and Amy Richards, my friend of 17 years, and collaborator of 15 years, probably, is
going to vigorously moderate. Thank you. And, I’m just gonna start by saying, a little bit
of how we came to this panel today, was in part the anniversary edition of Manifesta
coming out, in part the celebration of the Sackler Center third anniversary, and have
this opportunity to sort of say, where is feminism today? What does it mean, and as
much as we’ve evolved in our feminism and we keep, sort of, refining our definitions,
there are some staples that have sort of stayed with us. And some of those staples are people,
and ideas, and the ideas that those people create. So when we had the opportunity to
do with this, you had the opportunity to do this today, it was, I think you were all our
first choice, and you could all do it, and you came, in part because you’re all stellar
in your own right, but you had such an impact on us and what you were doing, and specifically,
when we were writing Manifesta and we came up with the ideas of Manifesta in the mid
90s, as Jennifer said, we were, sort of the pets of the Second Wave, which is code for
also, maybe we were just a little too obedient, and idolizing of the Second Wave. And Alix
Kates Shulman was one of those people who was both somebody who inspired us, but also
somebody who was sort of saying indirectly or directly, create your own feminism. Go
out and do it. If you want, if you don’t see what you want to see, you have to write it
yourself, and you have to create it. And so you were inspiring us then with that message,
and continue to inspire us today. And Ferai at the time, was a friend and a colleague,
and it was, as Jennifer said, we were in the offices of Ms. Magazine, in Gloria Steinem’s
office, and I think feeling like that was like, the center of the universe. And Gloria
Jacobs and Jeanann Pannasch are here, colleagues from those days at Ms. And Ferai was, at the
time, working at ABC news. And there was a little bit of a, I can’t believe she sold
out, I can’t believe she’s at ABC, why would she go to ABC and not work at Ms.? Or, why
would you do something, why not work, of course, ABC has long outlived most alternative publications,
but it was a wonderful lesson for us and it really became, in some ways, the premise of
Manifesta, when we were asked to define feminism for our generation, was, how do you both sustain
the vibrant alternative world that feminism has created and at the same time, have a foot
in the mainstream, and try to shake up the mainstream? And Ferai was, at that time, leading
by example, and though it was, initially, threatening, it turned out to be a great lesson
and has, obviously, continued to inspire us in so many ways. And Marisa Meltzer, at the
time, inspiring us, but everything she has gone on to chronicle, Sassy magazine, and
the Riot Grrl movement, would, we wish your books had existed, when we were writing Manifesta,
because there were too few resources available that chronicle those worlds, and they were
such a big part of what we were trying to say was feminism today, and how it was just
out there, in the culture. And so the ideas that you’ve gone on to document so well, were
in Manifesta and so thank you for writing that. And I just want to start by saying that,
when Jennifer and I wrote Manifesta, we were a little bit sort of too dependent on how
feminism was being defined by feminist institutions, and so we would sort of say, Feminism is the
movement for the full social, political, and economic equality of all people. And that’s
true, but once we started lecturing that, out in the world, we would get audiences of
people that would say, Uh huh, and how does that relate to your life? And what do you
mean by that? And how do you live a feminist life? And so we’ve had to kind of evolve on
our definition, and when Jennifer was introducing us, by introducing our backstory, it shows
the context of how we were, in many ways, and I think this is true for most people born
after 1970, feminist from birth. Whether or not we were identifying, that, as the way
to define our lives, we were born into a world that had so radically changed, as a result
of feminism, and so we were the beneficiaries of that. And it was not until we were in college,
where we started using the actual language of feminism, and saying, Oh, yeah, that’s
right. That’s why my Barbie was having abortions, and that’s why my mom made me sing that song.
It was standing up for yourself, and it was about power, and it was about this movement,
but it was not until, I think, we were in college, where we had a language, and then
it was not until after college where we had each other to sort of say, Oh, yeah, that’s
it. We’re not weird. Or at least, we can be weird together. And so, I want to start by
asking each of our panelists, where you were when you started to identify, where you were
in your life, when you started to identify as a feminist, and sort of go, in chronology.
Alix, if you don’t mind answering first, where you were, and I will just say to some of the
panelists as well, that the title for today’s talk, as you know, is Redstockings, Riot Grrls,
and Right Now, and though many of us know Redstockings and Riot Grrl, and hopefully
Right Now, maybe not everybody does, so if your answer can maybe incorporate that, to
also fill that out for people. Alix. Well, it’s so different from your lives. When I,
I was very lucky, is this working? Is it? OK. I was very lucky to be right here in New
York when the Women’s Liberation Movement was born, and even luckier to be able to get
in on the very beginning of it. I was a 30 something year old housewife, mother of two.
I had had to, well, had to. I left my job as an encyclopedia editor when I got pregnant,
because there were no options at that time for child care, and I felt as if my life was
over. It was, from then on, I was just going to be a housewife, mother, and my ambitions
in the world were finished. And then, suddenly, I heard on WBAI, some women talking about
this absolutely newborn Women’s Liberation Movement. The ideas that they spouted were
ideas that I had secretly longed for, but never articulated, and they gave the telephone
number of a meeting. And the address. So, I went to my first meeting, this was before
Redstockings had even begun, this was in 1967, and it was a life transforming meeting, because
there were all these women who were a decade younger than I, who not only didn’t, well,
I had been used to being dismissed from the world as this mother, that was all. I was
this housewife. It’s hard, I’m sure, for people to imagine what the culture was like then.
And, here was this group of women, who not only didn’t dismiss me, but they welcomed
me, because I was a living example, this housewife mother, of everything that their theories
were talking about. And so, instead of feeling, thereafter, that my life was over, I felt
as if my life was just beginning. And, indeed, it was. That’s great. Farai, do you want to,
and also, Farai, I know that you went to, was it an all girls school, from K through
12? Just high school. Just high school. OK, cause I say being in an all women’s college,
which I was, it was definitely an experience where I had that turned back on me, and I
remember my graduation ceremony, and then being at my boyfriend’s graduation ceremony
a week later, where it was, And tomorrow he will go out and do this, and he will go out
and do that, and, having never felt the invisibility, until I had the visibility, and wish I had
had it so much younger in life. And so, I guess, you didn’t get to high school, either,
so. Well, yeah, I mean, I don’t ever remember not being a feminist, because my mother very
much is, and she’s a big influence, and my grandmother was, as well, in a very profound
way, where she also had to fight too for her ability to be an independent woman. And, my
grandfather, in fact, was just very negative about the fact that she wanted to work. And
she put herself through college after she’d had six kids, and so she’s someone who just
made it happen. And so, I don’t really remember a, sort of, coming into feminism moment. But
I do know that, because of who my mother is, and who I am, and just because my family was
very embracing of experimentation, I would get, like, a chemistry set, one year, when
I was a kid, and then I would get a doll. And then I would get an erector set. And then
I would get a jewelry making kit, and a basket weaving set up, and all these things, like
being able to experiment with all these roles. And my sister loved Barbies, but what she
really loved was mummifying them and burying them in the backyard. So, somewhere out in
the yard, there’s all these mummified Barbies. So, and I read a lot of comic books. Barbie’s
looking for a new career, I’ve seen the bus ads. Yeah, exactly, Mummy Barbie. But, in
high school, I started the debate club, and we would debate all boys schools sometimes,
and that didn’t seem weird to me. We had an academic decathlon team, of course, an all
girls team, because we were all girls, and that just seemed normal to me. In college,
I was part of an improv troupe that was actually very gender balanced, it was, like 50 50,
men and women, and it started my freshman year, and I did it all the way to my senior
year. So, things like that, I think, the ability to experiment with roles, in play and work,
is something that I’ve really gotten from my family legacy, which is one where women
have had to constantly fight for agency. There’s many stories, including one where, not the
most positive story, but, my grandmother’s grandmother married a man who was much, much
older and already had kids. And he was so jealous of her that he wouldn’t let her go
get the mail, she had to walk down the path to get the mail, and if she walked down the
path, she might see a man, blah blah blah. So, she’d gone and gotten the mail one day,
and he tried to raise a hand to her and she had a pan full of hot lard, and she looked
at him, and she was like, You want some of this, babe? And he was just like, totally
straight after that. That was your influence. It was just like, in many ways, subtle, and
unsubtle, the women in my family have claimed their space. And I feel lucky that my time
has been less confrontational in certain ways. And I want to say, from the beginning, that
our definition of generation is maybe a little out of whack. There’s not such a great range
on the panel, and when Marisa got here, she said, I’m so excited to be the young one on
the panel, because I’m often with much younger people, where they’re like, What was it like
in the 90s? It’s true. I do remember the 90s. I came, I think I always identified as a feminist,
I have a feminist mom who has subscribed to Ms., and who took me to protests against the
Miss California pageant, dressed as me, I think. Thanks, Mom. And she worked at Planned
Parenthood when I was very young, so feminism was always a part of my life, and I also come
from a very long line of divorcees, so independent women were also ubiquitous, in my family.
I think that, I was always sort of a weirdly gender essentialist. Growing up, I was always
reminding everyone around me about the supremacy of being a girl. Like, I still, on almost
a daily basis, feel sorry for men, feel kind of like, god, I don’t know. I never went through
a phase of wanting to be a boy. I always was extremely happy to be a girl, and expressed
that in many ways, growing up, to my family. And, so, I think, though, for me, that while
I always identified as a feminist, I think that it really became personal in my life,
probably in early high school. I happened to start high school in 1991, and
that also happened to be about the same time
that Riot Grrl, which was the, sort of, underground punk feminist movement, was coming to fruition,
and so, for me, seeing pictures of girls with, like, halter tops, and slut written across
their stomach, felt really different from my mother’s feminism. My mom only wears comfortable
shoes, and keeps her stomach covered. Eileen Fisher. And wears quite a bit of Eileen Fisher,
and Icelandic sweaters. So, seeing that kind of glittery, girly, young feminism was extremely
visceral for me, and I thought, well, I want that.
And so that, also, was able to both be a personal
feminism, and also a nice way of my teenage rebellion scene that fell through. Your example’s
so refreshing, because I know in my own example, of coming to feminism, and I know this is
true of many people of Alix’s generation, you first had to try out other social justice
movements, because taking on gender felt too mediocre, or too self serving, I think there
were different ways that people interpret it. But I need you to fight for civil rights
in this country, and then it was through that where I was like, Oh, wait, and women are
left out. So it’s actually very refreshing that you have been gender essentialist, not
seeing yourself. So, yeah, so I ended up having a radio, my high school had America’s largest
high school radio station, for some reason. And so I had, like, an all girl radio show,
and I organized a women’s history celebration at my school, because of course they had never
had one. So, yeah, it just kept kind of manifesting itself in my life. And now, I write about
it. Well, on that note, when Jennifer and I had to go back and update Manifesta, we
were both a little nervous to read a book that was 10 years old, and feared that so
many of the examples in there were gonna fall flat, and not be current anymore, and we were
a little bit humiliated by how many times we mentioned Monica Lewinsky and Britney Spears.
And, though comforted by 10 years past, we actually had to define who Monica Lewinsky
was for this generation. And we’re happy the Spice Girls broke up, although now we have
Posh Spice, I mean, I’m sort of like, she hasn’t really evolved much in 10 years. And
so there was the good and the bad. And I was personally reading, I thought, did we actually
really know that at one point? Because, now I can’t, I mean, Jennifer can’t remember,
she went to Marisa’s book party, I’m like, I definitely couldn’t write this book today.
But we had to write a new introduction, where we got to apologize for some of the things
we didn’t do so well in the first round. But we end it, by saying that how we come to view
feminism, 10 years after writing Manifesta, is to recognize our power to create social
justice in our own unique ways. And we really wanted to put the emphasis on what we uniquely
can contribute to this movement, and as Jennifer said, the Alice Rossi quote, there was so
much attention to, Well, when are you gonna do the big thing? When are you gonna do the
massive thing? When are you gonna, and we were sort of focussed on, Well, when are you
gonna do the little thing? Because it’s all those little things knitted together, or woven
together, that collectively add up to something. And, also, we’ve learned, however many years
it’s been, hundreds of years in this country, that people are very ambivalent about power
sharing with women. Power is defined in a very traditional way, and so we might make
more success if we redefine what power is. Or reimagine power, in a way that is less
hierarchical. And, when Jennifer and I talk to college students who feel eternally disempowered,
we always say, Yeah, but you have access to, first of all, what the Internet is, and how
to create a weblog, and you need to do all these things, and identifying that for them.
And their eyes lit up, they’re like, Really? I have power in this movement? And we all
do have something unique that we’re contributing, and I’d like to ask all of our panelists,
to say what you think your power is, or, how does Jennifer’s five year old say it? Your
special ability. What your special ability is. I love that. That is good. And they say
it’s also hard to ask this of women, because women are always so humble, and say, Well,
I’m not really. So I hope you can, if that was your instinct, to step out of that, and
share your special ability with us. And why don’t we go, Faria, do you want to go first?
Sure, I think that, at this point in time, like many people, my special ability is survival.
Economic survival, and cultural survival. Right now I’m starting a new business. 15
years ago I started a blog called Pop and Politics. I was 25 years old, I was just starting
to do political commentary on TV for CNN, and my career as a pundit took off, and the
blog took off, and it, in some ways kind of overwhelms me, because I had no infrastructure
to grow it. And I have, in many ways over the years, as I went through being a TV pundit,
network news correspondent, TV host, did Oxygen during start up years, went into digital consulting,
went into public radio, but Pop and Politics is something where I’ve always been running
to chase this, it was first a no profit, an intentional no profit, with no advertising,
and then a nonprofit. It exhausted me. And so, basically I never took a salary, I raised
a ton of money for it, and if I had it to do over, I would definitely take a salary,
because why not? But at this point in time, after sort of the show that I hosted for NPR
was canceled during a wave of budget cuts that were painful, but not personally directed
at me, three shows died during the span of one year, which is quite a lot. News and Notes,
Bryant Park Project, and Day to Day were all canceled in one year. I was offered different
jobs, and I just didn’t want them. And at first, I was sort of like, why am I not taking
these jobs? And then I realized I want be an entrepreneur, and I already am. And so
I’m raising, I would use the f word, a f load of money to. As, like, feminist is
the word? An f load of money to start a dual
bottom line media company, meaning, with a for profit wing, and a nonprofit wing, and
I’m taking it very seriously. And I have been hustling and doing consulting, and doing all
these things that are not journalism in order to learn how to be a businesswoman, and I’m
getting, really, pretty close to doing what I need to do. And that’s just, that’s a huge
journey for me. Because I miss being a journalist. I miss covering the news, but right now, I
need to build infrastructure for media that’s inclusive, and diverse, and where you can
tell the truth. Alix. Looks like if anybody wants to make an investment, there’s information
later. It’s so wonderful to be here on a panel with one, two, three, four women who grew
up as feminists. It’s so amazing to me. And I feel now at 77, well, almost 78, that my
power has to do with looking back, that the writing I do can incorporate decades of this
possibility that has come to pass. Where all of these women and generations are born able
to assert their power, become entrepreneurs, organize, it’s just the most wonderful thing.
So, in answering your question, I think I want to speak about 40 years ago, when we
women had virtually no power. We couldn’t have done that. There were, of course, the
occasional exceptions, who were very annoying, because they said, Well, I could do it, why
can’t you? But for the most part, women didn’t have power then, and what was so wonderful
about the birth of this feminist movement, and particularly Redstockings, was that when
you walked out your door in the morning, everything remained to be done. You couldn’t take a step
that didn’t provoke you to want to make change. The power that we had then was being able
to see everything as connected. People now have many different projects, all, I’m talking
about feminism, there’s such a huge array, and that’s the most wonderful thing, but the
fact is that when we had nothing and had as a future everything to change, not one thing
to change or a dozen things to change but everything to change the consciousness of
an entire society, actually world, because it became a global movement. That was the
most empowering thing I can ever experience, to be able to think, It’s up to you to change
the world. So, I’m just very grateful, again, that I was born when I was into a movement
that
was just beginning. I think there was, just to add and I wasn’t there in 1967, but I think
there was some power in being an outsider that we’ve sort of lost today because it was
new and nuanced. So that even though it felt so empowering, there was a power that came
from this empowerment. And similarly what we hear, and I’m sure many of us in this room
hear it, but when Jennifer and I are on campuses, it’s not that people don’t believe in the
values of feminism. But they’re sort of kind of, Yeah, what do you want me to do? Because
they take many steps before they see it, and then they need someone to point out to them,
Oh, but did you think about this? Why are 80 percent of the tenured faculty male and
20 percent female? But, they don’t see that because they see the entire faculty looking
more diverse. So, I think there is also the power in being able to have it so exposed
to you, what was wrong or that non power sharing existed. I think it’s ironic that this person
on the panel is saying this, but I think it’s nostalgia. I have this seemingly unlimited
capacity for nostalgia, but I think that I’ve done a good job of being productive with it.
I hope that other people will take a cue and things like the Spice Girls or Alanis Morissette
or Vita Girl. Those things all need to be written into history, and I think so much
of that is up to us to do. I’ve always been able to reconcile my voracious, consuming
pop culture by trying to parse it out and to write about it. So, I think that that’s
a powerful thing. It’s all too easy to be drawn to culture and to feel like you should
be doing political organizing or something like that. I think that the more that we see
feminism in our culture in a really superficial way, you see where culture needs to change
along with politics. I look at somebody like Sarah Palin which is like the rhetoric of
feminism without any of the substance. To me, that’s where culture needs to change,
and we can’t just elect a woman. That’s not enough. But, yeah, it’s nostalgia in feeling
OK about that nostalgia and acting on it and writing your own history and not waiting for
other people to do it. The way you guys did Manifesta was so incredibly inspiring to me.
Well, I think what you’re saying, it’s not nostalgia to the point of living in the past.
It’s nostalgia to the point of. Although I do like to live in the past. How do we move
forward? I’m not opposed to that. But, you like living in the near past. You’re not a
Victorianist. You’re like a. I went through a very intense Victorian phase. I honestly
did. I subscribe to Victorian, all the magazines. Yeah, I know. It’s so embarrassing. True secrets
of the feminist. Yes, yes. I want you to know there was a study years ago, and I was reading
the study because I was helping Gloria Steinem with her book, Revolution from Within. It
said that the more education women had, the lower their self esteem. And it’s because
they were less likely to see themselves included in the text, the higher you got up that chain,
the less likely women’s stories and examples were to be there, and I see that when we travel
to high schools and colleges still, that women’s history, and non white people’s history, is
still so, it really is in the margins. Or, it’s still sort of the class that not everybody
has to take, and you actually have to do it on top of your regular course load. And, it
still has not done a good job of being insurgent to the curriculum, which is why some people
might say that the Sackler Center for Feminist Art, But why do you really need to put that
there? You need to because it’s not yet completely in the rest of history. You just were alluding
to this a little bit, both Alix and Marisa, in your answers, the sort of, generations,
and how we can sometimes be too dependent on feminism in another generation, and, conversely,
maybe too dismissive of how ideas that were put into place years ago have manifested,
maybe not in the way that we always wanted them to. The writing of slut across your belly
is maybe, for somebody, Gasp! Why are they doing that? But it’s fun for me to be on a
panel that’s labeled generational, essentially, generational feminism, and not have it be
so tense. Because a lot of times when we talk about intergenerational feminism, we’re more
often talking about the negative aspects of that, and how it’s manifesting negatively.
And I interpret that as, two sources to that problem. One, I think that young people are
sometimes scared about either sounding dismissive or scared about taking on that power, and
that responsibility, and that’s intimidating. And conversely, I think, it’s very threatening
for some older women to have younger women and younger men expressing feminism in ways
that they weren’t able to. And that feels intimidating. And also makes them feel vulnerable.
And so, I don’t know, I mean, Alix, you represent, more clearly, one generation on the panel,
but I don’t want you to feel like you have to exclusively talk about that. I know. I’m
happy to. But why do you think, from, and your new book is sort of going in that direction,
but why do you think older women have a hard time appreciating the contribution that younger
women are making? Or seeing it? You’ve got me. I have no idea. I appreciate the contribution
of younger women so much, I mean, to me, it’s the fulfillment of a lifetime, of effort,
to, that we actually, what we did all those decades ago bore fruit, and I’m grateful for
every single manifestation of younger women’s feminism. It thrills me. So, you’re asking
the wrong person. And it really irritates me no end to hear feminists of my generation
grumbling that the younger women aren’t the way we were. Well, thank god, they’re not
the way you were! I mean, life goes on, you’re doing fabulous work. It is depressing, also,
to note that, on the campuses, the work of women isn’t integrated, and, I mean, all the
things that are still left to be done, which is, I suppose, in a sense, still everything
in one mode or another. That’s depressing, but that’s not what’s wrong, isn’t the fault
of young or old feminists, it’s the fault of the other people who aren’t feminists.
And I’m sure, because we’ve been in these same rooms together, where we’ll be in a room,
sort of straddling those generations, and trying to be, in some ways, the translator,
and when you’re in that role of translating between the generations, what are you personally
offering? Well, I’m starting a new book about millennial generation politics. And people
define millennial in different ways. But, sort of at the lowest end people usually use,
it’s around 18, and the highest end is, like, 33, and some people define it different ways.
But, I got contacted by an organization, not a women’s organization, to be on a sort of
youth panel, I’m 40 years old. I am writing about millennials, and if you want me to be
on this panel, I’ll talk about my work. But because I started doing media, I started doing
television when I was 25, I think some people still think I’m 25, and I think that the best
thing, and we have all talked about it, the most important thing you can do is stop pretending
to be what people need you to be. If somebody needs you to be the young person, be clear
that you’re not the young person, if you’re not that person, and know who those people
are, have people you can recommend. So, I was like, I’m happy to be on this panel as
a researcher or to recommend some other people to you. And don’t get overly invested in your
own relevance. That’s important. Marisa, do you have anything to add? As the young person?
As the young person? I think that sometimes there’s a language barrier, or the talking
points are different, and I think that. Did you have somebody from another generation,
from an older generation, talk to you about your books? And say, I learned something,
thank you for adding clarity, I wasn’t sure why people liked Sassy in the first place.
Yeah, to a certain extent. Definitely. I think that people are, people are always pleasantly
surprising me, that are older, with their curiosity for it, and their interest. Even
my mom showed up to my reading with slut written across her stomach, under her shirt, but that
was her, she was trying to bridge the gap for me and show her support. Some moms bake
cookies, that’s not Allison. And you wore an Icelandic sweater, and your comfortable
shoes. No, I actually wore something that she told me she thought was too racy. Like
what? It showed some bra, but, anyway. But I think that now there’s, I see some of the
generational pull and push when I look at some of the discourse online. I think that,
we were talking about this before the panel, it’s so much of maybe, the Fourth Wave, whenever
that is coming, whoever that will be, will definitely have something to do with the Internet,
surely. And I see it on, like, listservers that I’m on, where I feel like there’s older
feminists who are sometimes shocked or bewildered by the actions and rhetoric of younger feminists,
particularly vis a vis, like, the way that they use the Internet, and the way that they
live their lives, which is certainly not specifically, a feminist problem. It seems to be a real
generational problem, but I think that trying to sort of bridge those divides, is going
to be a challenge for us. And I think it’s a really important one. I want older feminists
to harness the power of the Internet, and I want younger feminists to be able to explain
why they’re taking pictures of themselves, with their friends, or why they’re blogging
about their abortions. When Jennifer and I wrote Manifesta, we practically put the Internet
in quotes. It’s like, It’s probably not going to be around that long. Early news. I want
to say one thing, that what Marisa said reminded me of, and that is, there’s this, when you
said about your mom, kinda disapproving that you had some bra showing. Well, somehow, the
parents generation is always assumed to be sexless, and prudish, but I just want to remind
you that the feminists of the Second Wave were the ones who didn’t even wear any bras,
and let our breasts flop around, on purpose, and we demanded abortion rights, which brought
out into the public discourse, talk about sex, we wanted sex. Sex, sex, sex. Now, there
were some feminists of my generation who were against pornography, and who were kind of
puritanical. But there was a tremendous number of us who objected to that and who wanted
to have talk about sex, and equal sex. We wanted to be able to go and get sex whenever
we wanted, we wanted to do away with the double standard. We wanted to be able to talk about
and use birth control. I’m just wanting to say that, just because we’re of a parental
generation, doesn’t mean that we are, or ever were, puritanical. I agree with that. I’m
just gonna ask one more question of our panel, and then we’d love to hear from everybody
in the audience, for people that want to speak up. But the, one of the most successful chapters
in this book is called The Dinner Party. And we were inspired to write that chapter, in
part, because of Judy Chicago’s wonderful piece, and her ability in that piece to bring
together, women in history, as we were talking, who otherwise don’t get to come together in
history books the way men do. There’s not that story being told, there, it has to be
an alternative story. And we also were inspired to write the Dinner Party chapter. Had the
Sackler Center only been around then, we could’ve been even more inspired. We were inspired
to write it because, for so many people, feminism seemed to be this extracurricular pursuit.
It was something you did at a NOW meeting, or when you read Ms. Magazine, or something
at the Y, or a lecture like this. And then it left people confused when they left those
meetings, and those designated feminist spaces, of how to practice feminism, in their everyday
lives, in more mundane ways. And so, The Dinner Party was meant to inspire people, by bringing
people together and documenting something that we had done, which is to have dinner
parties over years of, and using them as an excuse to just meet women that we wanted to
meet. And bring them together, and to have conversations about fear, and what we’re scared
of, and what we’re nervous about, and doing that in a relatively safe setting. So, being
inspired by, being so close to The Dinner Party, what are the ways in all of your lives,
that you more mundanely practice feminism? When you walk out the door, and it’s not so
obvious, what are the ways you do, besides wearing your comfortable shoes, or writing
slut across your belly, that make you, what are the feminist decisions that you make?
I’m like, you don’t have to go first. I’ll just say for myself, I mean, besides sort
of strategically doing these dinner parties, I have little kids, and little kids give you
many great moments, where the neighborhood girl comes over and she’ll say, Well, I’m
gonna be the cheerleader, cause I’m a girl, so I’m not gonna play basketball. And I’m
like, not only do I say, Girls can be basketball players, I get out the book. And I say, look,
here’s the New York Liberty, look, there are girls playing, and they’re professional, and
they get paid. And so, there’s things that I do like that. And then there are other deliberate
things that I do, and I can downright be an, you used the F word and the B word, where,
if I just feel like I have shuttled the kids back and forth to school one too many times,
I will just say to Peter, I’m not gonna do it today. And when my kids were little, and
they would cry, Mommy, Mommy, and still today, I won’t go. Because not only do I want them
to not be overly dependent on me as the caregiver, but I don’t want them to not see their father
in that role as the caregiver. And so a lot of what I do is not do stuff, and not have
things expected of me. I was just thinking, listening to Amy, I relate to that a lot,
and one of the things, I think, the most important thing, I think, I do now is just, when people
younger, people are, they’re usually younger than me, but if anyone reaches out to me by
email, or calls, or needs me somewhere, and asks for something, if I can provide it, I
do. And I always follow up, because it’s such a small thing, but it may, I know that when
I first moved to New York, the fact that I could call you, or, I made these alliances
with feminists that were inspiring to me, or just made me feel less alone, made all
the difference, in terms of making me feel like I was powerful, and could make change.
Alix, you want to? Yeah, can I use my time to tell a story by Judy Chicago and the Dinner
Party? Yeah. Well, one of the early things I did as a feminist, when I became a feminist,
was I decided to stop giving couples dinner parties for my husband and his business associates.
And I said, no more. And I, for about six or so years, I did not have a single dinner
party. Everything was couples then, before the movement entered my life. And then Judy
Chicago was coming to town to present The Dinner Party, it was it’s first opening, and
I broke my rule, and I had a dinner party for Judy and there were ten of us, because
my table could seat ten. And she was a friend of mine. Well, in those days, all of us knew
each other, I mean, in the very beginning, the movement was so small that we all just
made all these connections together. So, Judy and nine others, no, Judy and eight others,
and I, all sat down to this table together, and it was a huge change in my life, again,
because it meant I was now free to have dinner parties whenever I wanted, just with my women
friends. I mean, I just think that right now, one of the things that I do that goes back
to the translation role, is that I think that there’s a lot of intersectional drama between
people of different races, people of different genders, people of different sexual orientations.
To the extent that I can, I’m trying to observe and inspire dialogue. And that’s, really,
what the next book I’m working on is, and I think that that is something feminist, where
you can observe how people act. And not constantly react in a negative way to other people’s
negativity. I got into an argument with a cab driver last night, and I was disappointed
in myself, because, it’s like, it was so avoidable. He was, yeah, exactly. Exactly. He was just
gonna be an annoying guy, and there was no point in me going there. But I see right now,
a lot of times, when I think of Proposition 8, I was living in California during Proposition
8, and it was just a disaster. I mean, it was just such a disaster. I was at this, this
thing called the Ballot Brunch, where a friend of mine hosts this brunch before any election
where there are ballot initiatives and everyone has to study the ballot initiatives, and present
recommendations. And so, as we were discussing Proposition 8, it was two white gay men and
three heterosexual women, including me, and I was the only black woman, it was like a
small little cluster of us, and we were all, like, Yeah, Prop. 8 is gonna pass, in part,
because there’s been no coalition building, people who are against Prop. 8 have not been
trying to really market to communities of color, we just saw the train wreck happening.
And then it happened, and people are still mad at it. And so, I think that one thing
that needs to happen, it’s just like, is some traffic copping of different agendas, based
on people’s identity. Because I think, the good thing is that you can be whoever you
want, but, the bad thing is, if you don’t communicate, then you can cancel out each
other’s ability to make social change. And I think that right now, things are just too
serious, for us to be for no reason, across different identity based lines. And so we
need to pull it together, and so, right now, I’m watching, and then I hope to, play a constructive
role at some point. I have a fair amount of teenage friends, for somebody my age, whether
they’re friends from the Internet or whatever, and I take a great amount of pride in trying
to curate the cultural and political choices in their lives, because they’re young, and
so impressionable. And so, I do like to send them Manifesta, and old copies of Sassy, and
everything that, Winona Ryder movies, and everything that shaped me so much when I was
a teenager. But I also really loved hearing about their love lives, or, like, things that
annoy them at school, and, and trying to plant as many feminist seeds, encouraging to call
themselves feminists. One friend read my book, and then tried to get a feminist club started
at her school the next day, which was so amazing to me. Her principal said no, but that’s a
whole other story. And then, I also think, especially amongst writers in New York, who
are women, there’s so much competition. I think the first instinct is often to see one
woman do well, and to think that there’s no opportunity for you or something, and I really
make an effort in my life to have a network of female writer friends, that are very real
relationships, and to help each other, and to be genuinely proud of each other, and to
realize that one person’s success is not gonna take away from yours. Just, hopefully, as
an example, that that will catch on, because that’s something that bums me out to no end,
that you see again and again women picking on women in the media, so. The movie thing,
I just had dinner with a friend, and she got a Netflix subscription for three high school
women that she’s friends with, and sends them movies, and then she, and then they can send
her movies. And I was. That’s really good, yeah. That’s such a great way to communicate,
it’s like a modern day version of a book club. Yeah,. Definitely. Even easier. So now, we’d
love to hear from the audience, there are microphones on either side, if you are feeling
lazy, or you’re feeling too trapped, we can just repeat your question. Hi, something came
up, I’m really interested, because it’s a intergenerational group of women, about, Alix
brought out with, puritanical view and sexuality and pornography. And I was informed my analysis
of pornography came from Dworkin, and Susan Griffin’s Pornography and Silence, so I just
didn’t, I was wondering about having it stay in the air, that the analysis of being concerned
about how women are portrayed in pornography is not coming under the rubric of puritanical,
and I was wondering to see what people would say about that. The first thing it makes me
think of is how the seemingly competing tensions in that formulation is, do we care about the
fact that there’s violence against women, and then does that, does dealing with that
anxiety, or dealing with eradicating that injustice, do we have to give up freedom,
certain freedoms in order to do so? And that’s been the conflict the whole time. I think
the way it’s being the really painful debate that’s going on right now, is about sex work
versus sex trafficking, and people talking about sex can be work, that a woman chooses,
and it should be legalized and decriminalized, and there should be all these ways to have
it be a form of expression and way of making money, versus, no we have to absolutely eradicate
it because the potential for abuse has been just proven over and over to be kind of overwhelming,
that’s where we’re at right now. So, I think it’s, I think the conversation has changed
a little bit from being about pornography, and I know that that was an unbelievably painful
split and debate in the 80s for activists, and I think we’re seeing it again right now,
with people who are working around sex work versus sex trafficking. I think people thought,
by changing the language, to being about sex trafficking, it would get them out of that
debate, and sort of, that, what seemed like an intractable place, but it’s right back
where it was. And I think it is really hard, I and, to Farai’s point about, kind of, being
a traffic director, is, there are a lot of otherwise allies out there who aren’t able
to come together and the consequence is gonna be that everybody loses. And yet I understand
why they can’t come together, because they only see the other person’s position as a
total utter compromise, and not something they can support. I mean, there are wonderful
groups out there, and actually, you did a wonderful panel at Sackler about a year ago,
on sex trafficking. But Dorchen Liedholdt, who’s at the Sanctuary for Families, has done
a lot on this issue, and Equality Now, has done a lot, there’s other sort of, more localized
groups. There’s a great film out now, called The Playground Project, and it’s about sex
trafficking within the borders of the United States. And I think it’s such an arresting
film, because, we’re more sympathetic when we see the Southeast Asian young girl, woman,
we’re not quite sure, than it is to see the white 16 year old from Kansas. And we’re like,
Wait, you chose that? You didn’t choose that? Where’s the, it calls into, so there’s a lot
out there right now. And there was that movie, Trade, that was a more popular, so there’s
a lot out there, and hopefully, that, by having those cultural moments, and things to hold
onto, we can send them to our 16 year old friends on Netflix, we can have more of these
conversations, and try to get past the intractable place. Yeah, I think as far as pornography
goes, I think that pornography, and so many other things that are related to sex acts
and how we view them, really have to do with agency. And to me, that’s always the standard,
is, does a woman have agency? Because I have friends who were in the fetish community,
and their form of agency involves doing things that other people would consider humiliating,
painful, oppressive. But, it is a form of their sexual expression. And, although I don’t
choose the same expression, I appreciate that it is, for them, it’s their choice. And so,
I think all of us have different reasons that we do different things, but I think at the
same time, ultimately, when I think about the conversation, I think about agency. Do
you have agency, in this decision. And also, is it an informed consent. Because you can
consent to things verbally, or even on paper, and it’s not informed consent. So, I think,
to me, when you think about issues like pornography, sex work, anything controversial, I always
think of, what’s the level of informed consent, what’s the level of agency of the players
involved? Hi, thanks. This is an amazing panel, and it was amazing to hear. I love hearing
about the different milieu over decades, like, Alix, your stories about going to the meeting.
And then having the dinner party, are so wonderful, and then of course Marisa and I, pretty much
share a milieu, we’re the same age and came up through most of the same cultural forces,
and what I’m interested in that was harder to get at in this panel, because Marisa is
the young one, is the Right Now aspect of the title, right? And that’s something that,
I think probably Amy and Jennifer and Marisa, especially, would be really well equipped
to talk about, because of either your speaking tours, or, Marisa, your extensive online networks.
We know that, compared to my and Marisa’s generation, the number of young women calling
themselves feminists, continues to drop, right? Although, I talk with my friends who teach.
It’s actually, statistically, up. It’s up? Really? It’s up. And it’s always been up.
And younger people are more likely, the age range of 18 to 24, are more likely to identify
as feminist than any other. And more likely, now, than the same age group 10, 20 years
ago? 10, 20 years ago. OK. So, already. This is, there are many where people now, who,
I mean, it’s also, too, that they ask the question of men and women, now? And they used
to only ask it of women. So that’s some of it, although I think that’s, a huge percentage,
but. I guess my question is just precisely about that. Like, what’s going on, feminist
wise, with, like, the actual youngest people, with people who are in high school and college
and around that age now. And how is the Internet affecting that? That’s my question. It’s interesting,
too, with the whole concept of Right Now, because, of course, we’re all still living,
so we’re part of right now, everyone in this room is part of right now, but it’s true that
it does, you do sort of think, like, What about the kids who are born in 1995? What
are they doing? And, I think, one of the things they’re doing that’s really important, is
around abortion rights, reproductive justice in general. So, pregnancy decisions, and supporting
all decisions. And one thing that I’m particularly excited about lately, is our projects, like
the Doula Project, so these are women who are trained to attend births, but they also
attend abortions, and they also attend adoptions. So, they are supporting, they think that every
pregnancy decision deserves support. To me, that’s a really important exciting feminist
thing that younger people are pioneering. And Amy and I, when we do abortion related,
like screenings of an abortion film and do discussions specifically around abortion,
we have been seeing tons of younger women and men come in who are from the birth community,
really trying to make that link between abortion and birth. All those pregancy decisions as
being crucial, and truly linked. And then, similar to that, a much broader, or, more
complicated, more nuanced understanding of what abortion, having a baby, or raising kids,
or placing a child in adoption, of what those decisions might mean in an individual’s life.
And a lot more respect for how diverse, and how everybody’s circumstances are gonna dictate
what that experience is, and not, really not using words like pro choice or pro life very
much. Or saying things like, I am a feminist, but I am also pro life, and then going on
to define what that means. And it’s typically not, And I bomb abortion clinics. It’s usually,
like, And I believe that it is a life, and it’s taking a life and here’s how I practice
my feminism to support that value system without taking away another woman’s opportunity to
make decisions, meaningful decisions, about her life. I think trans issues will be really
prominent in future feminist discourse, the Fourth Wave, whatever, however it’s going
to play out. I think that we’ve already seen some bits of how it’s impacting all female
colleges and I think in the way that when I was in high school, there was starting to
be, it was becoming more common, maybe for teenagers to come out, and for gay straight
alliances on high school campusses. I think we’re going to start seeing how trans populations
will sort of change and get younger, and in high schools. I think that that’s something
that will affect feminism for the next generation a lot. I won’t go into too much detail, but
a friend of a friend, there’s basically a 10 year old girl who is already living as
a boy, and very firm in her gender identity, and I think one of the things that that raises
is just questions for parents. I’m not a parent, you two are parents, and I just think of how
parents now, I mean, that’s a lot to process. How you choose to, when your child has a gender
identity that other people may not support, how do you, as a parent, navigate that? I
mean, it’s nothing profound that I’m saying here, but it just strikes me that that’s a
big burden. And you want to have, luckily she does have feminist parents, both her father
and mother. But it’s just one of those modern challenges, that I think, I think about, like,
in an intergenerational sense, every generation of parents also has to think about how they
do and don’t critique the behavior of the children they’re raising. And sometimes there’s
not easy answers to how you try to guide a child whose experiences are very different
from yours. And I do think, though, that gender fluidity, just in general, is much more, I
mean, we certainly see the moments when it’s not allowed, and it’s prohibited, but it’s
much more acceptable. And you even see it, like, in snowboarding, I mean, I hate that
Navyulum Vicks is, you’ve the female heat, and the male, because when snowboarding emerged
as a sport, it was, you couldn’t tell the gender of the person. It was a sport that
was just out there and available, and I think young people grew up watching that. I will
see kids that put on tutus one day, and then they put the tutu on, and they push the dump
truck. And I think that you just see that from a young age, and you see people being
OK with that. I think, what they’re OK with is when both things are happening. I think
it’s harder sometimes when there’s that sense of transitioning or abandoning, and you see
it among sexuality, too. Early on, you can already hear kids being, like, Is that your
girlfriend? Is that your boyfriend? And, even though there’s definitely still danger, and
discomfort with same sex relationships, it’s much more likely that kids see that as something
open to them. The other thing that I see with a lot of younger people, is, and this is,
Jennifer and I host a, it’s a feminist summer camp in New York City, but we hosted feminist
winter term, where we bring students from all different colleges, is more and more what
I was, with years ago, is people, sort of, I’m a women’s studies major, and I’m a philosophy
major, and I’m an art major. And bringing their feminist politics to these other disciplines,
and starting from a really young age, and being an artist, but within the context of
that, trying to explore what it means to be a female artist, and how to be a feminist,
and picking up on that at a very young age. You said, a young woman was unsuccessful in
starting a feminist club at her high school, but we see tons of young people that are starting
feminist clubs in high schools, and they’re often around things having to do with Women’s
History Month, or we want to do AIDS Awareness Day, or we want to celebrate National Coming
Out Day, they’re often linked to some sort of theme. And then, the other thing we’re
seeing, which is, I think, more common, we host this, we go to this program every year
that Barnard College does, and these 40, 50 students are just stellar, and they’ve already
raised, like, 40,000 dollars for cancer research, and they’ve already painted a children’s wing
of a hospital. But they’re just starting to have that moment, and these are high school
juniors and seniors, of, Oh, that’s great that we raised 40,000 dollars for cancer,
but what about women cancers, specifically? You can see the light bulb starting to go
off, they have the instincts toward social justice, but not yet the gender awareness
around it, and they’re starting to get that. I promised this woman next, and then. Thank
you so much, so much of what you said has been very thought provoking and has brought
up a couple of interesting points. One was, Amy, the question that you asked about competition
among women. I find that one trick that I have used, and it’s not a trick, it’s truly
heartfelt, is to complement my students who, how do you say, outgrow me. If they have done
something exceptional that I myself have not done, or even thought of, I do say, Thank
you so very much, I’m so glad that I was a part of that process. And I do expect you
to excel me in many ways. And I’m so very grateful to have been a part of you moving
forward in ways that I will not. So, but, I guess that brought up to me, that I too
was brought up in a culture of men competing, as opposed to completing. And, it’s for me
to change that, that women who do outgrow me in certain ways are complementing my contribution.
Do you find, do you find that when you take the risk of saying that, that then somebody
says, Oh, and thank you. You get more information? Not that you’re fishing for it, but do you
get it? Well, I don’t get it verbally, but I see them relax and light up, and I see them
so very grateful that I can take a back seat, even though I look like I’m in the front seat,
I’m not. I’m in the front seat of what I’ve already accomplished. But I’m in the back
seat of what they are yet to accomplish. And their whole attitude lights up, and that to
me is their thank you. Not like, verbally, they’re able even to put it into words, they’re
so happy I’ve said it. My question, because I’ve been dealing with this very harshly lately,
is that I came from a background of art and healing and spirituality, where, not to be
immodest, but I was, how do you say, thought of an exceptionally lovely woman. Lovely,
and funny, and spiritual, and kind. And yet, those things were often, how do you say, connected
with weakness. I haven’t changed completely, those things are still there, but I certainly
have become more, how do you say, assertive, and clearer, and I don’t take crap when it’s
put out at me in a rather obvious manner, and I, yet, still am around a lot of women
who are not equal to the men in power, money, and prestige, that they are working with.
And I find myself, of course, needless to say, having to move on. But now that I’m in
a position of having shifted my identity, into one that is, perhaps, stronger, a lot
of attention is often viewed toward me of, well, am I, or am I on my way to being a dyke,
or a transsexual, or otherwise generally much more obnoxious than I used to be. So, I guess,
this is something that all of us have to deal with, this level of seriousness. The whole
Second Wave stuff, and that totally taught me, but I’m a person who’s like, so fixated
on culture, and I write about Holly and Marisa, you’re awesome. And I feel like now, 10 years
after I’ve kind of, like, left institutions even though I’ve kind of dabbled in it, back
and forth, I feel like once I discovered how to mesh my feminism with my kind of pop culture
freakness, then I understood my contribution to feminism. Because I couldn’t do the whole
institutional stuff anymore, just couldn’t do it, I was exhausted by people who were
like, 20 years older than me, who had so much energy, and I was just, like, I have to take
a nap. So, I just wanted to acknowledge, like, figuring out your little bit, and that’s OK,
and how all our little bits are what makes it interesting, and redefines feminism, and
now, that I’m writing about Hollywood and stuff, the most interesting people are the
high school students, and the men who want to write about feminism in Hollywood, and
they’re like, Why didn’t a woman win an Oscar for 82 years? and I’m, like, Because buh buh
buh buh buh, and they’re like, Oh. And it’s not like, me, defining it, but it’s empowering
people to ask the questions. So, I don’t know if I actually have a question, but the point
I’m trying to get you guys to illuminate is, kind of, how the different pieces, like, sports
has come into the foray now, in terms of redefining feminism and pop culture and music and things
like that, in ways that weren’t necessarily acceptable earlier, because it was always
about, like, dire, important, emergency issues, which are still vital now, but it’s kind of
broadening the scope of feminism, so if you guys can talk about that. Well, I think, Melissa,
that I feel like, there’s just this idea that we don’t just, we’re not just simply political
creatures, we’re not bifurcated that way. And we exist in culture, and we’re interested
in TV, and the world around us, and we are also interested in politics, and the ways
in which power is constructed in wars, and we actually don’t have to choose. And I think
that that is what the daughters and sons of Second Wave feminism have been able to express
a little bit more, spread that news a little bit more, or have jobs in culture where you’re
the head writer, you’re Tina Fey and you’re the head writer of Saturday Night Live, or
you create this incredible TV show that really expresses Third Wave feminism, because we
grew up with a lot of things having already been changed. And there are moments when it
is a little bit less dire. And it’s really important to attack the culture, too, not
only because we need to see the visions of ourselves, as Amy was saying, all over the
canon, all over the culture, but also because we need to keep archiving the work that women
are doing. That’s why it’s so crucial that the feminists, that The Dinner Party was finally
given a permanent home. Work that women do, whether it’s in songwriting, or creating an
installation, or writing books, tends to go away. And, I mean, it’s important that the
representatives from the feminist press are here, because that’s the same thing, it’s
finally archiving women’s contributions to the world. And, so, I think if you’re doing
it about pop culture, you’re doing really important work. And it’s political work. I’m
just gonna jump to the questioners, because we don’t have much time left, so I’ll go to
you, and then over there, and then you. I know you guys addressed your special abilities,
specifically, but what I wanted to know, as was mentioned, that you are, the redefinitions
of power, because I thought that was interesting, and also, how would a college student, like
me, in New York, be active in feminism? I know it’s highly personal, but maybe some
ideas about the redefinitions of power, and how to be active in the City of New York.
Well, I sort of add on Melissa’s special ability. Because I do think that somebody’s, and this
is related to power, some people are powerful working in institutions. Some people’s power
is managing an institution, and making that institution make sense, and other people’s
power is working on the outside of that institution, and I think the problem with power is that
we see one thing as more powerful than the other. So those of us who don’t have that
executive director title, are always a little bit, like, What do I do again?, and it’s because
we’re still trying to fit ourselves into a narrow definition, but with more and more
of us that have realized that what we uniquely contribute is the ability to make up our own
careers, and to stand in a different place. Hopefully we’re giving that example to other
people who can say, Oh, wait, there’s not this neat job for me, but maybe I’ll do that
two days a week, and I’ll do this two days a week, and so, if that’s something that speaks
to you, I think being able to harness where you feel like you’re gonna be the most effective.
Yeah, I think that there are a lot of different ways to express feminism, and I think the
most important thing for me as a person has been this sense of beginner’s mind and lifelong
learning. And college is a great place to be someone who’s learning, because you’re
learning on an interpersonal level, you’re learning about power dynamics, you’re learning
from books and lectures and all this stuff, but I think that one thing that you can do
as a feminist, is to observe power and understand the history of power. And, university bylaws,
university practices, like hiring practices, the way that universities, I mean, universities
are power structures, I mean, incredible power structures that anchor large parts of this
society. And, one of the things that you can do is just observe what’s going on at your
university, and have a sense of how the money that you’re contributing to the system of
the university is being spent. I remember in college we had protests over women being
excluded from these clubs, these things called finals clubs, and then protests over South
Africa, and all of them had to do with, on some level, with university policy. About
private space, public space, university dollars, I mean, it’s a great thing to observe, I think.
Over here. OK. Hi, I just wanted to congratulate the panel, we’re in such a wonderful place,
and I also wanted to say, I saw your film, I Had an Abortion, and I loved it. And I think
that one of the reasons I loved it is, you can’t have an abortion on network TV and not
be sorry. So just talking about it, as one of your people said. And so, I teach here
and every little girl loves The Dinner Party, and sometimes, they’ve seen it before I even
take my classes there, so this is just a wonderful place to be. But I came from Planned Parenthood
this morning, and speaking of train wrecks, I just want to say, we were just talking about
Proposition 8 earlier, I just want to mention, the person’s name is Stupak in Health Care
Reform. There are petitions to sign, put out by Planned Parenthood, this is going on this
weekend. One of the interesting things I’m doing is investigating crisis pregnancy centers,
and I hope there’s some journalists out here that can do it, and write about it. And, also,
but what I wanted to do, since I’m in so many feminist organizations with the younger women,
and you’ve talked about this a lot, is the difference of generations I’m seeing is the
Internet. Like, I am on email all day, signing petitions. But then I’m also, actually, escorting
people to Planned Parenthood and they are going past some stuff that you would not believe,
is not a hate crime. For a doctor to be shot in his church, and it not be a hate crime.
So, I keep saying to the kids, like, we’ll have meetings, and everybody’s texting during
the meetings, and I’m just wondering how we can sort of bridge that sort of cultural,
I mean, I feel like an old lady, because I feel like saying to younger women, well, that’s
rude, you’re texting right now, what I mean? I’m starting to feel like my mom. So I wondering
if we can talk about the Internet and stuff. Well, I definitely don’t know if there’s anything
that we can say that will get texting etiquette standardized amongst teenagers or college
students. I’m certainly guilty of it myself from time to time. I do think that the Internet
can be a really powerful force, not just for things like signing petitions but for building
a feminist community. I think a lot about how being a teenage feminist used to be sort
of, unless you were lucky, a pretty lonely thing to grow up as. And now, it really doesn’t
have to be because you can find people who are just like you online, and you can live
a life in some ways with online friends and colleagues and have this really supportive
cohort that you might not have in your family or at school or in your town. And so, I think
that we need to be not so judgmental of people, particularly young people who are increasingly
living their lives online because I think it can be a really powerful way to live. They
can be texting about stupid things. I’m not that much of an optimist. I don’t think they
probably were, but they potentially could be. I do think that it can be a really powerful
tool, and it’s something that we might not all understand, particularly those of us who
grew up before the Internet. But, I think it’s something that is inevitable and important.
And I think it’s more our job to adapt versus their job to go to our ways. Of course, the
importance of activism in real life and showing up to things can be underscored. It sounds
like you’re doing very important work, talking to them about that, but it’s a compromise.
Is it OK if I go over here to get this question? I didn’t see this one. Hi. I must tell you
how thrilling it is to hear the words, Fourth Wave. And my question is probably not going
to have time here for an answer, but I’d like to get it on somebody’s agenda in the future.
As a strategy for the Fourth Wave, what do you see the role of the male? And can we encourage
people more male to admit to being feminists and to become spokespersons or role models
or some such thing? I think in the Fourth Wave you’re already seeing this in the Third
Wave. I think there’s going to be no conflict for a guy to call himself a feminist. He won’t
be applauded for it. He won’t be seen as very unique, and he’s not personally going to feel
so exposed by doing it. Even in just Amy’s and my travels, we never had an event where
there weren’t men, and this is hundreds of events now. So, I think men see themselves
as part of this, and in the same way that Amy and I and everyone on this panel was raised
with feminism in the water and all these important changes from this Second Wave of women’s liberation.
Young men were raised in that exact same environment. They were raised by single moms who gave them
a Barbie and all that. They were raised with the same influences, the free to be you and
me generation. You see it in how unneurotically men claim feminism as an identity for themselves.
And I think the next step and this is something that Amy talks about a lot is really expressing
feminism as a man on your own behalf. So, not just as an ally to a woman, but what would
it mean? How would it improve your life and the life of society to be a feminist? And
what’s your special ability going to be and your contribution? Because it relates to the
question about power because I think historically men have had the power, but I think we’ve
seen in this generation that men have been as abused by that power as women have and
specifically some men who don’t conform to traditional masculinity. And so, I think they’re
becoming invested in changing the definition of power, too. Hopefully, that can be even
more realized in this generation. That said, I just wanted this out. I’ve been in a couple
of meetings where this has come up, and I used my Ask Amy as a little radar. When something
comes up so many times, you’re like, oh. And is it so much the girl positiveness that has
happened over the last couple of years is being used to put boys in a state of crisis?
And, you see it with colleges. Most colleges, it’s 60 percent women, and then, how it’s
playing out is at the high school level, and I was just meeting among some of the very
elite private schools on the Upper East Side of New York, and they were all saying, Boys,
you have to work, girls are taking your spots away. You have to, and, similarly, what we
see at college campuses is people saying, Boys, you have to lose your wrestling program
because we needed to keep the girls’ volleyball program. But the way Title IX is, it’s not
tit for tat, it’s a dollar amount. And it’s like, no, no, no. The reason you had to lose
the boys’ wrestling is to preserve the boys’ football. It’s not the girls’ gymnastics or
the girls’ volleyball. But there’s a lot, I think, in the rhetoric right now, that is
trying to say to men, women have taken away your power, but it’s in these very subtle
ways of getting internships for college, and getting job potential. And now girls are,
so, I think there’s something a little dangerous out there, too, that we need to pay attention
to. And you very generously so. I was actually just wanting to ask a question about sort
of, young women and their sexual expression, because you talked a little bit you touched
on the idea about sex work, and the idea of agency in the pornography industry, and the
split about approval disapproval with pornography, and Second Wave feminism. But I’m just curious
as someone who works with teenagers, and someone who goes on the Internet a lot, I mean, there’s
I’m just wondering, I feel like I haven’t, like, I read Female Chauvinist Pigs when it
came out, like five years ago, whatever, and like, I haven’t seen a lot of sophisticated
dialogue, in academia about how to, sort of, deal with Internet culture and the way that
women are self representing their sexuality, and using sexually empowered, but where does
that line get flipped around to where, it’s, in an insidious way, sort of disempowering,
or their agency really isn’t there? Because, there are entire porn websites that just draw
on MySpace and Facebook for their pictures of underage girls. And it’s like, I don’t
want to speak to, and there is a lot of slippage about whether or not consent age really represents
where our agency can be, and I don’t want to speak to that, the legal definitions are
entirely where these ideas should come from, but I’m just not sure what feminism has to
offer in terms of a critique of women self representing, and it may be not having anything
to do with agency, always, or where that line can be drawn, and how that can be floored.
First of all, you can just be honest in the dialogue, and say, you may represent yourself
one way, and other people will see it a completely different way. You may be standing against
a wall, and someone may see you in a provocative pose. That doesn’t mean that you’re standing
in a provocative pose, but people see different things. Likewise, a future employer of yours
may see something very different. When they see a picture of you, it may not have anything
to do, I mean, you kind of have to disengage the intention from the artifact. And I think
we have to start talking about artifact culture. When you have a JPEG, a picture, that goes
up online, it may be virtual, but it’s still an artifact of a moment. But how people interpret
that artifact is different. And I think people, then, don’t feel as judged. You’re not saying,
that was a slutty picture, you’re saying, this picture is interpreted as slutty by these
people. It’s interpreted as pornography by these people. It’s interpreted as fun by you
and your friends, it’s interpreted as threatening by your ex boyfriend, it’s like, people can
put all sorts of things onto the artifact. But if you understand that artifact culture
leaves a permanent record, and that pictures on Facebook are never deleted, and that huge
amounts of Facebook’s budget goes to preserving all of the server space to maintain every
picture you’ve ever deleted from Facebook, let alone the ones that are still up, then
you understand artifact culture better. And it’s not about judging someone’s individual
artifact, the intention behind it is about talking about the realities of it, and I think
people get that. I think teenagers can get that. Well, thank you so much for coming.
Thank you for coming. And thanks Sackler, for hosting us, and the Brooklyn Museum. And
now, we can continue this conversation at the reception, which I assume will be self
evident how to find? Fourth floor, up one floor. In the Center itself. Fourth floor,
in the Center itself, so hopefully we can continue talking there. But thank you.

18 comments

  1. Feminist art? That's just whinging with paint brushes isn't it? Saw some at the Tate Modern, seemed like it to me.

  2. Feminist art is an oxymoron as women are incapable of creating great art.These are examples of feminist "art"1) a fish tank full of used tampons 2) A 3D image of George Bush with a vagina for a mouth 3) A photograph of Donald Rumsfeld with "stop the war!" written in menstrual blood.4) Another image of George Bush gagging with a giant bloody tampon jammed down his throat.This "art" is subsidized by the American tax payer. Yeah, bloody tampons are right up there with Beethoven. Great work girls.

  3. Yeah totally, I mean what the fuck is African American Art and why does it deserve its own gallery?

  4. That saddest thing about it all, is feminism is a first cousin to atheism. Both are full of lost people including this speaker lunatic. They have no idea.

  5. Postmodernism. Big fucking deal. I agree with the guy above. Beethoven is art. Jesus in a fish tank full of urine is not art it is Jesus in a fish tank full of urine. Beethoven's 4th piano concerto is art. Zappa said you can take a piece of dog shit and put a frame around it and it becomes art. Well, maybe. Or maybe it's just a piece of dog shit with a frame around it.

  6. The sisters are doing it for themselves. You know what's funny? You want to be independent from men so you run to big government and get it to appropriate money from men. Big government is your new sugar daddy. If you want independence from men buy a Smith and Wesson .38 and put it in your purse. The next time some dickwad tries to grab your ass blow his balls right out his mouth.

  7. oh you poor wittle man. Do we need to throw a pity party for you because women are gaining some space and power? Oh you just go lie down and rest because it's going to be something you'll either adapt to or get left behind. Menz whining over this isn't going to stop it.

  8. The only way women can create art and not starve to death is to receive a grant from the government. Women just aren't talented enough to play cool guitar riffs or do math beyond long division. Basically there are two types of women: bangable and non-bangable. Bangable chicks are cool to have around and are good for when you need to toss a batch. Non-bangable chicks are good only for cleaning stuff up and buying groceries although bangable chicks can be trained to do this.

  9. 10 minutes of "You're awesome"… "No, YOU'RE awesome!". Oh God. The guards love the art center. She loves them very much. 12 minutes. I can't watch any more of this crap.

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