Crucial Minutia
it's the little things...
Courtney E. Martin
Book Tour Blog: Femisnow
1 Comment | posted May 07th, 2007 at 04:37 pm by Courtney E. Martin

When I found out I would be reading at the amazing Garcia Street Books in Santa Fe, New Mexico on May 5th, I imagined a wonderful outdoor event, adobe glowing, folding chairs set up in the front patio, the sun shining down on all of our shoulders. As it happened, there were snowflakes.

But another part of my fantasy was totally realized–a community of intriguing locals interested in the work and eager to share their own ideas and struggles. One of the things that came up in discussion was my relationship to feminism. A wise and beautiful member of the audience kindly expressed her fear that the message in my book about perfect girls being the “unintented side effect” of feminism (i.e. supermoms raise supergirls) might be twisted in the minds of unsympathetic media and made to look like I am blaming feminism.

Unfortunately, this wise woman’s fears have already been realized, at least with regards to headlines. Last week, a richly complex and fun Q&A came out in Newsweek with the unfortunate headline: “How Feminism Got Corrupted.”

Just to be clear: I consider myself a feminist. I believe that the work of feminism is critically important, and unfortunately, still very much undone. Our mothers–both literal and figurative–did an amazing job of framing the debate around choice, of flooding previously male-only spaces and taking back their power, of transforming the expectations for their lives and the lives of their daughters, of declaring the personal, the political.

I don’t, however, think that they truly internalized a lot of their own ethos. I think they stormed the boardrooms, but couldn’t forgive themselves for not also being in the nurseries at the exact same time (as if that were physically possible) and visa versa. I think they argued until they were blue in the face for choice, but didn’t accept that some choices would involve sacrifice, that not every woman can have it all, all at once. I think they felt fine telling other women to love themselves but had a hard time extending the invitation inward. In other words, they were sometimes evolved feminists in theory, but self-sacrificing superwomen in action.

So it turns out that the personal is even more political than any of us ever imagined. The feminism I want to enact is one that champions informed choice and equality, but also encourages wellbeing, also invites women to take care of themselves, to prioritize their needs, to say “no” more often, to feel less hungry all the time. Imagine how much more effective our work in the world would be if we weren’t exhausted or starving or bitter? Imagine how much more fun we would have.

This entry was posted on Monday, May 7th, 2007 at 4:37 pm and is filed under Court's Book Tour. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There is currently one response

  1. Meredith

    Hi Courtney - I just signed on today to follow your book tour blog and read this post. I felt like I had to respond in some way (if not directly to this post, to your new book at least). I am in the middle of reading “Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters” and I feel like you are writing about me in so many ways. I kept thinking “how in the WORLD does this person know how I feel?” The amount of pressure to be good at everything and look good (i.e. thin) while doing it is incredible. I just didn’t know this sort of stuff was going on in other people’s minds, too. You are probably hearing these exact same words a lot on your tour, so sorry if I am repeating things you are already hearing. But even what you said in your post, about how our mothers told other women to love themselves but also having “a hard time extending the invitation inward” is something that I experience today (I’m not a mother, I’m 22). I’m pretty sure you know this happens today, too, in young women. It’s so easy to forgive others sometimes, but harder to forgive yourself when you can’t manage everything at once and do everything at an A+ level. At least, that’s how I feel a lot of the time. Anyway, I don’t want to go on and on here, but thanks for what you say, and how you say it. I’ve only read half of your book so far (reading for pleasure is hard when you have to read for school as well!) but I like how you’re not “in-your-face” about feminism. That can be a turn-off (and kind of scary!) to people like me who are new to the whole feminism thing. I will be seeing you soon (I go to Transylvania University) and I look forward to meeting you in Dr. Fojtova’s class and hearing your talk. I only wish you the best.

    May 10th, 2007 | 9:04 pm

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