Originally posted at Gender Focus by Jarrah Hodge. Cross-posted with permission.
For the two years I’ve been on Twitter, I’ve found it to be a really great place for keeping track of news about gender issues and networking with other feminists.
But for new users, it can be difficult to use Twitter effectively. I often hear people complaining that ”all it is is people talking about what they ate for lunch”. I can also see feminists maybe getting turned off given some of the offensive hashtags that end up becoming trending topics, like #rulesforgirls and #ihatewomenwho.
Although I admit I tweet a fair bit about what I’m eating, there’s a lot more to Twitter than the mundane. I’ve tried to list the top Twitter accounts for feminists to follow in a variety of categories, in no particular order. I follow almost 300 related Twitter accounts and I found it difficult to narrow it down. I’d love to hear in the comments below which accounts you think should be added.
#sheparty – This is a hashtag used for a weekly feminist discussion session hosted by the Women’s Media Center each Wednesday from 12-3 PM EST. It’s a great way to use Twitter to network with other feminists and chat with special guests.
#fem2 – Probably the most popular catch-all hashtag for feminist topics.
Guest post by co-organizer and co-moderator of Young Feminists Speak Out: LA, Miranda Petersen.
From left to right: 1. Myra Duran, Tani Ikeda, Jollene Levid, Brie Widaman, Miranda Petersen 2. Tani Ikeda, Jollene Levid, Brie Widaman
Last Thursday I served as Co-Moderator, along with Melanie Klein of Feminist Fatale, for the “Young Feminists Speak Out: Los Angeles” panel/mixer, which I helped organize along with Morgane Richardson, founder of Refuse The Silence, and Myra Duran.
The event was inspired in part by a recent piece in More Magazine that featured Morgane, along with other familiar feminist leaders such as Shelby Knox and Lena Chen. Our goal was to continue the conversation on what young feminism looks like today, while also calling attention to the often-overlooked work of feminists on the west coast, and providing a platform for young feminist activists to speak out in a forum where they would be shown respect and be taken seriously.
When considering potential speakers we aimed to capture the diverse, intersectional nature of LA-based feminist culture. The panelists included Myra Duran, Grassroots Community Organizer, Tani Ikeda, Founder and Co-director of ImMEDIAte Justice, Jollene Levid, National Chairperson for AF3IRM, and Brianne Widaman, Founder and President of Revolution of Real Women. Together, the panelists were able to speak to a broad range of issues—many of which are often left out of the mainstream feminist dialogue—including access to education/the DREAM Act, citizenship status and reproductive justice, anti-imperialism and anti-militarism, the fight against trafficking of women and girls, queer sexuality and sex education, body image and the media.
Our effort to include such a wide range of issues and individual styles led to an intense and empowering discussion on the need to address the underlying capitalist, patriarchal structure of our society, and the importance of re-framing the discussion in a way that is inclusive to everyone, especially those outside academia and the feminist blogoshpere. At the same time, having such a diverse group of panelists proved how challenging it can be to try and neatly encompass so many different approaches and ideologies within a traditional framework, such as a panel discussion. It is possible that trying to include so many different and unique experiences may have led to a less-cohesive dialogue than we anticipated, and it brings up the need to re-think our organizing methods and recognize our own assumptions of the “best” way to initiate a dialogue.
Miranda Petersen and I will be moderating a kick-a$$ panel that continues the conversation More Magazine began last November with their article, What the New Feminists Look Like. Join us for music by the Sun Warshippers, a panel discussion + Q& A with LA-area feminists followed by fun feminist mixing.
Morgane Richardson, Myra Duran, Alexandra Garcia and Miranda Petersen
Myra Duran – Young Feminist Organizer, graduated from the UCLA with a B.A. in Women’s Studies with a concentration in women of color feminism and a minor in Labor and Workplace Studies. She began her journey fighting for women’s rights as an intern for AF3IRM. She continued to pursue women’s issues and empowerment when she became a campus team intern for the Feminist Majority Foundation. The beginning seed for activism had been planted there and later developed into a heavy love for exposing the truth where she spearheaded FMF’s Campaign to Expose Fake Clinics at UCLA with Bruin Feminists for Equality. Serving on the Bruin Feminists’ executive board helped her increase campus and student awareness on women’s rights, women’s issues, and women’s empowerment. Most recently, Myra worked as a research organizer for the UCLA Labor Center’s California Construction Academy and served on the Young Women’s Leadership Council for the Pro-choice Public Education Project. She currently works as a National Campus Organizer for the Feminist Majority Foundation.
Tani Ikeda – Director and Filmmaker with ImMEDIATE Justice , is an award winning director who creates narratives, documentaries, music videos, and commercial projects. She is the Co-founder and director of imMEDIAte Justice, a program that trains young women in media literacy and sexuality education, and was named one of the 25 visionaries of 2010 by the Utne Reader.
Jollene Levid – is the National Chairperson of Af3irm the Association of Filipinas, Feminists, Fighting Imperialism, Re-feudalization, and Marginalization. AF3IRM a transnational feminist, anti-imperialist women’s organization with chapters in NY, NJ, Boston, the Bay Area, San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, and LA. AF3IRM, formerly known as Gabriela Network, has been active for 21 years and its 3 campaign areas include Immigrant Rights, the fight against US imperialist wars, and the Purple Rose Campaign against the trafficking of women and children.
Morgane Richardson – Professional feminist,social media firm and Founder of Refuse The Silence: Women of Color Speak Out. Her reflections on women, race and education have been published in numerous blogs and magazines
including, Bitch, Feministing, University of Venus and More Magazine. Aside from earning a degree with an all-too lengthy title Morgane spent her time at Middlebury College shaking up the status quo and demanding respect for her peers’ rights. After graduation Morgane put her experience as a campus organizer, Posse Scholar, and her innate awesomeness, to use toward a career as a professional Feminist. In 2008 she founded Refuse The Silence, an initiative that encourages women of color who are currently enrolled in or have attended elite liberal arts colleges in the United States to share their stories. In 2009 she co-founded a successful social media firm, Mixtape Media, which works on pro-social campaigns for clients like Russell Simmons and the United Nations. And in 2010 she has taken on a new role as Workshop Genius, traveling the country working with students and administrators to reconcile the existing hegemony within elite academia with the desire for diverse campuses.
Morgane is fourth wave antiracist feminist – approaching her generation’s inherited economic, environmental, and social issues with an innovative flair, a progressive mindset, and a practical implementation.
Brianne ‘Brie’ Widaman (a.k.a. ‘Brie’) – President and Founder, Revolution of Real Women™, a global movement advocating the empowerment of females in reclaiming their freedom of individuality, self-esteem and unique beauty. RRW™ was created out of Brianne’s diverse background in a broad range of areas from politics and broadcast journalism to her experiences in acting, modeling and working in the music industry. Since graduating from the world-renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston with her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Business and Management, her work has taken her to Nashville, Las Vegas and finally back to LA where she grew up. As a survivor of her battle with anorexia and bulimia, she now serves as a leading public advocate for those who suffer from eating disorders, self-esteem and body-image related issues. Today, REVOLUTION OF REAL WOMEN™ has grown to over 20,000 members across the web and serves as a sound voice of reason within the image-making machine that is ‘Hollywood.’ RRW™has truly come to embody its slogan – ‘Be the MEDIA you wish to see in the world.™’
When did you first call yourself a feminist, and what helped influence that decision?
I have always been a feminist. The question is asked often these days, and I find it so peculiar. Would you ask a person of color if they believed in equality? Would you ask a trans person if they believe in LGBTQAI Civil Rights? I would rather ask why one would not want to be a feminist. I can think of only one legitimate reason, and it is because they are really stretching the boundaries of US thinking to drop all labels and make that their mission. (gender fluid!)
Did I ever think women or men were innately unequal? Never. Nor people of different races, ages or classes. Certainly my deeply devotional childhood influenced me. I look at the books I read, the saints I admired, and they were all people who worked with making life better; Mother Seton, Vincent DePaul, Catherine Laboure, even St. Nicholas and St. Valentine worked with the oppressed, the poor. It just seemed like the obvious choice. When I got older and found out that the word and meaning of Christian had been entirely co-opted, I converted to Buddhism. Funny thing is, it makes more sense to me to think of John XXIII, Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem as all practitioners of Buddhism. They are all invested in Self-Discovery. (I digress)
Yes, I watched The Bachelor finale last night. Jake’s final pick, Vienna, the young and controversial self-professed “princess,” got the tabloid tongues wagging. But, I’m less interested in Vienna versus Tenley or Gia or Ali than I am interested in the lack of real kick-ass role models for young women and girls. As I search the cultural landscape, with it’s endless cheaply produced (and asinine) reality show fodder, I see few female icons that contribute anything meaningful to women’s and girl’s lives as a whole.
Hawking the latest diet pill, discussing how they got their bodies back 2 minutes after baby or how they lost weight and transformed into someone entirely new and entirely better is not exactly a pro-woman message and is lacking any sense of collectivity. Unfortunately, we have too many Heidi Montags, Viennas and single gals looking for some guy to “put a ring on it” on a variety of reality shows serving up played out and unrealistic gender roles. Most young girls and women know more about celebrity dating and diet habits than they know about the women (and men, of course) who made personal sacrifices and ushered in changes that many take for granted, from voting rights to reproductive rights.
So, it is time to resurrect the Featured Feminist (see previous posts for names and information) which was an effort to bring the names, faces and lives of in-the-world feminists to light. In celebration of 30 years of Women’s History Month, we’ll be bringing you feminist bios on some of our favorite feminists through history in a continued effort to raise consciousness and banish the collective amnesia that trades real effort and change for lap dogs in pink sweaters and diet secrets.
Revolutionary Road is a tough movie for a woman who grew up after the women’s movement of the 1970s to watch, but after watching it a couple of times I actually think that it should be required watching for all young women who think that feminism is irrelevant. (Disclaimer, I am a consultant to the studio and organized a blogger screening for the film.)
The film tells the story of April and Frank Wheeler living the post World War Two “American dream” that morphs into the American nightmare. It is the era described in the Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan the book that articulated for women the “problem with no name” which Kate Winslet read while preparing for her role as April. She stated in an interview: “It was the era of prescription medication, you know, and women really starting to believe …Maybe I’m crazy, because I don’t want this life, I think there’s something wrong with me.'” (The Guardian)
April and Frank were was supposed to be different. But they weren’t. They were exactly the same as everyone on their boring suburban street and that’s what was driving them both crazy. But the thing is that Frank had options and choices and given the fact that it is 1955, April did not. Frank went into the city everyday on the train with lots of other men to their boring jobs and April was stuck at home.
She had no choices, no options.
A scene that really shows April’s suffocation is when she takes out the garbage cans and positions them perfectly on the curb. She then looks up and sees all the other garbage cans perfectly positioned on the curbs up and down the street. Her face at seeing all the cans, the disbelief that this has become her life is palpable. Juxtapose that with the scene of Frank standing on the train smoking and breathing in the fresh air and the suburbs fly by. He’s free, she’s in a box.
As Silverstein points out, films that can accurately portray the conditions that led to the second wave of feminism, or the Women’s Liberation Movement, are important for young women AND men today that often believe that feminism is unimportant or outmoded. The haze of collective amnesia is thick. It is always striking to me when young women don’t have a sense of their own history as women and lack a working knowledge of the women and men that paved the way for their own choices. The women and men that do acknowledge gender issues usually proclaim the ever popular phrase, “I’m not a feminist but…”
While I maintain a critical eye on the fabric of popular culture, I am the first to acknowledge and utilize popular culture as a relevant learning tool. Films like Iron Jawed Angels, North Country, Far From HeavenThe Hours and , shows like Mad Men and Sex and the City provide points of analysis that resonate with many young people and provide opportunities to move beyond their preconceived notions. These films and shows often provide the first puncture mark in the bubbled reality many people have about women, men, gender, feminism’s place historically and in the future. That’s saying a lot. I have no doubt that I’ll incorporate this film into my own curriculum.
No one can deny the role that gender played in the recent election. From the beginning, scores of articles and opublic discussions revolved around gender, race, class and their collective role in the political campaigns.
Naturally, a significant portion of the discussion revolved around Sarah Palin and her post-feminist feminist image:
“She isn’t going away,” Seymour said of Governor Sarah Palin. “There is a group of women out there who love her, who think she’s a feminist; she thinks she’s a feminist. Listen to her talk. She is a post-feminism feminist in many women’s eyes.”
“Women are hungry to see people fight, to see people be confident, to see people stand up and say things,” Huffington continued. “Even women who deserve confidence don’t have it. So, when a woman stands up like she did at the convention and speaks with confidence fearlessly and also has children, it’s very appealing.”
Of course, the panelists stressed that we must remember Palin’s true anti-feminist nature, but the conversations about her did not end. There is something very significant in the fact that Palin dominated a discussion at an event of educated, motivated feminists and it begs the question: Is Sarah Palin setting the agenda for modern feminists? When did we go from leading the movement to reacting to it? And ultimately, where does the feminist movement stand in 2008?
When the discussion turned to Senator Hillary Clinton, the commentary remained somewhat unsettling. “The way Hillary gave her final speech of the primary was very significant because it showed women, who are so terrified of failure, that you can fail magnificently, that you can fail and still succeed in so many ways,” Huffington revealed. “When she said that there was no resentment or bitterness, despite whatever she may have been feeling, she came across as somebody who was ready to move on and be in the future.”
While it’s true that Clinton’s conduct spoke to women and set new standards, how did she become an example of graceful failure and how is Sarah Palin considered bold, confident and still trying to win?
Feminist ideology, feminism and feminist identity also became a hotly debated issue post-Hillary and in light of Sarah Palin. The relationship between feminism and the media has a long, sordid history and there was ample discussion on the future of that relationship in the wake of Clinton and Palin.
Whatever you believe, this event spoke to the urgency and relevance of feminism in 2008. The panel proved one thing — that truly feminist, intelligent women must be involved in drawing up the country’s blueprints and maneuvering the cranes of change in the next four years. Donning political and cultural hard hats is the new feminist imperative. This is our chance to build a future, where all people can flourish equally. And it’s about time to get to work.
Read Maric G. Yerman’s complete article at the Huffington Post here.