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The Death of Feminism?

March 31, 2009

Courtney Martin at the American Prospect has a piece asking if there is a “formal feminist movement” any longer. Martin wrestles with the transformation of the feminist agenda and its direct-action past, which was

about marching in the streets, about taking over offices, about riding around the country in vans, falling in love ā€“ not only sounds like they had a whole lot of fun, but also managed to make some profound political changes.

The modern incarnation, like other movements and organizations that have had to transform themselves in an era of heightened technology and the possibilities of social networking, looks quite different:

In today’s climate of shaky economics, smaller and smaller subcultures, and lightning-speed information, a feminism based on picket lines and in-person consciousness-raising groups is next to impossible. I wish that we could all come to terms with that. Instead of pining over days far gone or talking about how we might resurrect them, we could put our energy into supporting the good work on the ground going on right now — the Young Women’s Empowerment Project in Chicago, the Student Action with Farmworkers in Durham, Exhale after-abortion counseling in Oakland, Domestic Workers United in New York, and more. We could revise our expectations — not a few giant fireworks but so many little sparks; not worldwide protests but effective public-awareness campaigns and advocacy and service provision; not a unified body but a courageous and creative culture.

I think the model she suggests–“so many little sparks”–is a good description of the new methodology for initiating popular social movements, using new technology to build a more egalitarian, grass-roots message from the bottom up instead of from the top down.

One Comment leave one →
  1. akeela permalink
    March 31, 2009 10:21 am

    The need to eradicate the system that oppresses women will never die. Many people think feminism has died because the streets aren’t lined with angry protesters on a daily basis. I agree with Courtney Martin about the model shifting for our era. Technology has allowed us to be revolutionary without borders. We can reach people in greater numbers and organize collectively from the grassroots level. There was never a formal model. That would suggest a cohesiveness of ideology, and that can be seen when you consider the history of white, Black and lesbian women in the movement.

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