I attended the Feministing blog tour at Boston College today. Miriam Perez and Courtney Martin from blog and a BC senior Rachel Lamorte were held a panel discussion about feminism and feminist activism after they spoke briefly about issues important to them. Rachel spoke about feminist activism on BC's campus, Courtney spoke about how she became a feminist, her life as a feminist blogger/writer, and what blogging has taught her, and Miriam spoke about coming out as queer. Courtney and Miriam also signed books: Courtney signed her book Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters and Miriam signed Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power & a World Without Rape, in which she has a chapter.
Before this panel, I had not thought much about how much the blogosphere has facilitated the evolution of "young feminism." As Courtney joked, blogs like Feministing provide a way for the "lone feminist in Arkansas" to connect with like-minded people on the internet. (I didn't realize that Feministing has half a million unique readers per month.) Feministing (along with Shameless, Bitch Magazine, etc.) have been great for me personally in exploring my views on various feminist and other issues (portrayal of women in the media, reactions to feminist/anti-feminist comments by public figures, male chivalry, "sexy" Halloween costumes, general activist issues, etc. etc. etc.). I had not realized that I had stepped into something fairly new: the internet has enabled bloggers to evolve "the face of young feminism" and to reach out to a much larger audience than the older generation of predominantly white, upper-middle class female feminists.
Attending this panel made me realize that both at Harvard and at MIT, I did not encounter a women's group like the one at BC. BC seems to have an active group of feminist activists; they also seem to have men's groups interested in stopping sexual assault etc. I was happy to see some men at this event, a couple of whom asked questions and commented about men's roles in feminist activism*. Maybe it's just that I haven't been paying attention, but a quick search of MIT resources doesn't turn up much. (Harvard did get that controversial women's center while I was an undergraduate there.) If anybody knows about feminist activism on MIT's campus, please let me know.
I bought Yes Means Yes! and it is amazing so far. Thanks to Alicia Johnson, BC '11, for organizing this event!
* Courtney had a great answer to this question: she said that playing the apologetic, priveleged role puts men in a disadvantaged position. She suggests than an "authentic way" for men to particpate in feminist conversations is to think about the ways in which they have an haven't been privileged and the role this has played in their lives.