ANNOUNCEMENT: An Upcoming Virtual Discussion with Lauren Southern

Hi all,

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.

snapshot lauren tweet

snapshot jenna tweet reply

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 everydaygeopoliticshouston@gmail.com.

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,

Jenna

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12 thoughts on “ANNOUNCEMENT: An Upcoming Virtual Discussion with Lauren Southern

  1. hi Jenna! Although it was a while back when you wrote the article in reply to Southern’s video, I would really like to thank you SO much for posting/sharing it. It is everything everyone who believes her video needs to here. (I would have commented on the article itself, but I am not a member of Penn State.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi! Thanks for the nice comment! The blog was actually originally posted on this wordpress site (where you should be able to comment, right?) Some fellow PSU grad students just decided to reblog it on a psu blog afterward 🙂 Anyway, I’m so glad to hear you found it useful.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t believe you aren’t inundated with comments here. I just read the initial resposne and the next thing on my list is the post following this one. Thank you for your remarkable voice, the breadth of your knowledge, the encompassing inclusivity regarding aspects of class economics and race politics as relates to feminism, and the steadfastness of your voice in a dialogue that would betray even the best of us as being as nerve wracked as you say you’re feeling. We’re all behind you, and if we’re half as brave as you are, we’ll each be taking this dialogue out into the world with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Jeanna. I recently read your article somehow “by accident” . One of my co-workers share Lauren´s video a couple of days ago and to be honest it moved something in my and wrote a comment about it, and even though I don´t consider myself a feminist (not because I don´t want to but I don´t feel I have the knowledge that it is requiered to support my ideas) I started reading people´s comments too and found out a link that lead me to your article. I congratulate you, I couldn´t find better words and a more polite way to reply to this video. I am a mexican teacher and I will definitely share this with my students both men and women.

    Like

  4. Thank you for the response to Lauren. After watching her video I felt anxious and tired. I’m so glad you felt compelled and motivated for me and for all. Thank you again.

    Liked by 1 person

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