Saturday, October 9, 2010

moving beyond the "firsts"

i have to do a report on a figure in cultural studies for one of my classes, so i chose angela mcrobbie, who, it turns out, is awesome. here she is, looking witty, stylish, and fully tuned-in to the ideologies that define gender in our culture:

feminism today, is, i think, a largely unpopular word for people of my generation. unfortunately, if you say you are a feminist, aka you believe in the equal representation of women's voices, people assume that you hate men and love nascar and burning effigies of paris hilton (actually...would that be fun? let me come back to that one).

but angela mcrobbie is this voice of such good sense and clarity, like princess leia…she does not want feminism to die for this generation of young men and women because it might mean losing a language that allows women's experiences to be acknowledged. but at the same time she recognizes that if the language of feminism doesn't serve women as it originally intended to, then we need to ask ourselves, what will serve?

because the main point is that we tend to think we have "won" wars against race, gender, sexuality, etc. but just because we have made progress (and GREAT progress that we should celebrate) doesn't mean the work is done. as my good friend darryl, a great public speaker, cook, and black member of his community who was invited to speak at this year's martin luther king jr. celebration, said: "why do we celebrate hearing about the 'first black man' to do this, or the 'first woman to do that'? i want to live in a world where we're beyond hearing about 'firsts.'"

if we could also move beyond a world where "diversity" means the token black friend or the token gay friend in an otherwise all-white heterosexual cast to a feature film, that would also be nice.

the danger of living in a culture that stresses equality is that it tends to see it where it doesn't exist, and the willful blindness can become an even more invidiously oppressive system than the formal barriers that earlier movements of the 20th century sought to eradicate.

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it's not just for the classroom!