So, a couple weeks ago, I wrote a blog post in reply to Lauren Southern’s viral video “Why I’m Not a Feminist”. I initially wrote this thinking it would be read by a few feminist friends, and I was shocked (and grateful!) by how widely it ended up getting circulated. To date, it has had over 75,000 views, which is totally wild. Trust me, it is a rare experience as a graduate student to have so many people read and engage with something I’ve written, so thank you. I have loved hearing from many of you in the comments section of the blog, in emails, and on reddit forums. I have also learned a lot from your replies—about cool feminist projects, about concerns and conceptions people have about feminism, and about some of the challenges of communicating feminist ideas to a mass audience. More than anything, I’ve really appreciated how thoughtfully most people have participated in the discussion, including those who thoroughly disagreed with what I was saying.
Anyway, yesterday I head from Lauren via Twitter.
After we discussed it a little bit, we agreed on the following:
We would do a one-week call-and-response style online discussion, in which we’ll post questions/prompts for one another. The person will have a day or two to offer a response and to post a new question/prompt for the other person. Lauren will use youtube for her replies, and I’ll use my blog.
Now, I’ll confess this is a nerve-wracking for me.
My first, and perhaps most obvious, concern is that feminism is such a huge arena of activism, ideas, and scholarship. It’s incredibly heterogeneous, and I certainly do not want to remotely claim that I am an expert on every arena of feminist thought and action. Moreover, I want to be really, really clear that I do not represent all feminists. Feminists debate and critique each other’s work all the time. It’s part of what keeps the movement changing, and part of how we push each other to improve. Given this breadth, when I write my replies, I will undoubtedly need to turn to other feminists to learn about topics I’m less well versed in. On this note, I’m all for crowd sourcing some help, so feminists who are following the discussion should feel free to send me sources that might help me address Lauren’s questions. I’m grateful for whatever insights you can add. You can email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My second concern about doing this discussion is that this will be a debate between two white cis-gender women. Within feminist history, there is a long, problematic, and on-going history of white feminists bogarting the mic, speaking for all women, and focusing on liberal feminist projects that tend to benefit largely white women, while neglecting issues of LGBTQ people and people of color. This concern feels particularly ripe at this current moment given the need to maintain support and momentum for movements like Black Lives Matter. This week, I think it is more important to talk about what happened to Rekia Boyd, who was killed by an off-duty cop while walking, unarmed, with her friends, than it is to talk about the wage-gap. The man who killed her was just acquitted by some truly insane courtroom logic, and too-few people are standing up. I hope Lauren and I will be able to talk about these issues in relation to feminism. Given that she’s Canadian, perhaps we could also put #BlackLivesMatter into conversation with #AmINext and the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada. Anyway, I’ll also do my best to keep these issues (and the voices of queer feminists and women of color) front and center here. I do welcome ideas on ways to improve how I do this though, both in terms of formatting (perhaps a way to include more voices in the reply?) and in terms of the content I write and the questions I pose to Lauren. Again, feel free to reach out to me.
My last concern is that the discussion will turn overly adversarial. Both Lauren and I agree we don’t want this, and we hope that those who join in the conversation will try to be respectful to both of us along the way. These can be complicated and difficult conversations to have, all the more so when they’re done in front of thousands of people. So, let’s all try to keep the conversation going productively. That said, we do hope you join in in, and feel free to share thoughts with us in the comment sections of my blog and her video, on Twitter (although, I myself am less of an active Twitter-user), or via email.
I’ll be posting the first question for Lauren tomorrow. So check back soon!
All the best,