I love it when research about feminist activism and feminism points you to a quote that explains exactly what you’re trying to do with your own activism. This is from ManifestA: young women, feminism, and the future by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, and I feel it describes exactly how I feel about feminist activism:
Though activism can be grand or all-consuming, it is also as common and short-term as saying “That’s not funny” to a racist joke, “No” to the boss who asks only the “girls” in the office to make coffee, or calling your senator to protest… (282)
Also important to remember:
The first myth is that activism will bring an immediate and decisive victory. In reality, the journey to justice is usually [darn] long. So while the click of consciousness brings immediate gratification in itself, social change, even on a small scale, is slow and arduous work. (283)
The second myth about activism is that it has to be huge… (285)
The third myth is the importance of the superleader… It is a myth that effective activism is the result of one person, or even a few. (285)
Although we may not yet have a critical mass of Third Wave activists, we need to dispel the fourth and final myth: that our generation is politically, um, impotent. Our purported lack of activism is usually chalked up to vague notions of apathy. We were reared by the boob tube, and made cynical by the cold-war politics and consumerism of the Reagan-Bush era. For a while, ad executives and media pundits conjectured that Generation X was simply lazy and irresponsible – fulfilling the slacker persona of the early nineties. The apathy rap has some truth when it comes to feminism. Some people do believe that everything is fine now, and that there is no need for feminism, either because they have low expectations or because they haven’t been in the outside world long enough to experience the limitations brought on by sexism… But history tells us that for each big leap, for each crystal-clear moment in which people refused to give up their seats on the bus or at the lunch counter, there is a time collecting energy and stating new visions – a time of pre-emergence. Understanding that change takes time will lead us to a redefinition of our generation politically. (286-7)
How do you feel about feminist activism right now? How do you define it? How do you participate in it? I’d be interested to read your comments!