Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mission Statement

I write this on the evening of the 88th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which, as we all know, gave women the long-fought-for right to vote. Tonight at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Hillary Clinton spoke in support of Barack Obama, her erstwhile challenger for the presidential candidacy. For months, the media has been touting this primary season as a conflict of race versus gender, and now they’re eagerly reporting that some Clinton delegates are reluctant to hand over their votes. And, as a staunch feminist and avid Clinton supporter, I deeply sympathize with the disappointment of not seeing a woman in the White House for a least another eight years. But we should all be heartened that, either way, this race is historic and exhilarating. And I, for one, am proud to be part of a generation of women able to experience both of these remarkable candidates.

Nevertheless, earlier today at a panel on politics, sexism and the media held by the National Women’s Political Caucus, the real disappointment of the 2008 primary battle kept raising its ugly head. I think Newsweek contributor and occasional McLaughlin Group panelist Eleanor Clift put it most succinctly. In this primary race, she said, “youth trumped gender,” meaning that young women did not feel compelled by feminist solidarity to vote for Clinton. Of course, the fact the youth vote was and is so powerful in this election is a good thing, a great thing, and the fact young people came out to vote in such overwhelming numbers is imperative. But Clift is not the first to note that young feminists don’t generally feel the feminist urgency of the generation before them. And why should they? Gender equality has been achieved. Sexism has been eradicated. Clearly, we don’t need feminism or a women’s movement anymore.

Anyone who believes that need look no farther than this primary election season, which, if nothing else, has shown us that sexism, misogyny and gender inequality are still alive and well. Others have discussed the sexism of this race far more eloquently than I could here, and so I’ll just leave you to explore the world of Hillary Clinton nutcrackers, pundit castration anxiety, hecklers admonishing Clinton to do her chores, and the endless discussions of her tears in New Hampshire and let you come to your own conclusions.

To be fair, Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House was only one of the reasons I wanted to start this blog. The other goes back several years when I came to the horrifying realization that other women of my generation (women in their twenties and thirties) really did think that the women’s movement had already achieved what it sought to achieve. The Clinton campaign is just the latest evidence that there’s still so much work to be done. I mean, for goodness’ sake, women still earn on average 23% less than their male counterparts. If you like statistics, there are more. Many more.

I think we need a new movement, not just a vague idea of feminist values from an era gone by. I’m not saying that this movement hasn’t already started—there are women and men everywhere who still believe strongly in the tenets of feminism. Nor do I think that we should follow blindly in the footsteps of our foremothers. Their efforts were groundbreaking and we should always feel a deep debt of gratitude towards all the strong, passionate, and dedicated women and men that came before us. The world has changed a lot since the 1970s, and our battles are different, but there are definitely still very real battles to be fought and won. We are not all the same, we all have different needs and wants and creeds, but we can still present a unified front in the face of gender inequity.

I hope that the Fourth Wave Feminism blog will become a dynamic space to foster feminist community in our contemporary world. Not a place to forget the past, but a place to explore our present and look towards a progressively brighter future. That said, this is just a blog—a place to gather knowledge and discuss on all sorts of topics, from politics to pop culture. It’s up to us, as a community—as a movement—to actually orchestrate change.

Aviva Dove-Viebahn

8 comments:

Rebecca Walker said...

This is fabulous. Rock on! I will get your feed and talk you up on the circuit.

Rebecca Walker said...

Though I do think a picture of me on your masthead would be good. LOL.

aviva said...

@Rebecca: Okay, now I'm just embarrassed. ;-) You're the one that's fabulous! And you're completely right, I should have one of your books in the masthead...hmm...maybe I'll have to plan a revamp one of these days. Absurdly, I didn't realize you had a blog as well so I'll make sure to put you in my feed. Thank you so much for stopping by!

JCK said...

What a great post, and wonderful writing! I'm excited to find your blog.

adv said...

Thanks JCK. Glad to have you reading!

Tabby said...

Aviva,

I am so happy to have found this blog. I absolutely agree that it's up to us as a community to orchestrate change. I think this blog is a fabulous place to gather knowledge and discuss topics from politics to pop culture, from a woman's perspective.

Thanks for following your passion and creating a space for women to gather and empower one another.

Tabby Biddle

Aviva DV said...

Thanks, Tammy! I'm so glad you stopped by.

Leandres said...

I just wanted to ask if you think the youth should vote on Clinton because she's female, regardless of who they think would make the better president?