Cross-posted with permission from Interview4Obama
Gloria Feldt and I are feminists from the second wave of women’s movement when the DIS-Parities (yes, shades of Mary Daly in my writing; cain’t hep maself…) between opportunities for men and women pushed into the full flowering of public discourse. Women organized, women protested, women gathered in consciousness-raising groups, women wrote books about patriarchy and sexuality and new ways of valuing the work we do, our social/emotional skills, our movement "from margin to center" (find this feminist classic by bell hooks here). Young women went to Planned Parenthood to get the pill and, in my case, to get my one and only frank discussion about sex from a mature, kind, motherly woman. University departments in feminist studies/women’s history were founded (not without the heroic perseverance of quite a few founding mothers in academia), Roe v. Wade established a woman’s right to privacy, giving us ultimate control over our bodies, ourselves (find this updated feminist classic here). The list of barriers stampeded and demolished by women is a long one and, to some of the young feminists coming up in the world today, so long ago they don’t realize how new and how fragile these gains are.
Gloria Feldt, former CEO of Planned Parenthood and now a stumper/speaker/social-media activist and teacher, says "You’ve Come a Long Way, Maybe." In the prologue to her new book No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, she signs on to Ellen Goodman’s grade of "Incomplete" for the revolution. I can think of a few other second-wavers voicing the same frustrations, including the formidable Loretta Ross of SisterSong, who was a panelist at a Feminist Town Hall meeting held the day after Obama won the presidential election. The chutzpah of organizers Jaclyn Friedman and The Center for New Words! Since I don’t live in Boston where the panelists convened, I attended by streaming video. To the mostly thirty-something-ish crowd of women, Loretta said "Let’s finish this revolution!" I resonated. Gloria was also in attendance virtually at that Town Hall. I think I’m safe in saying neither Gloria nor I were surprised by Loretta’s battle cry, but I can tell you that I felt enormous relief upon hearing another woman speak my own frustration.
Older feminists who see how much still needs to be done are talking with younger feminists about how to do it. "If we give the fulcrum of parity one last heave-ho, it will very likely propel women to equal footing with men for good — ours and theirs," writes Feldt, who describes herself as a "practical activist" and a "movement builder." I had several "Aha!" moments while interviewing Gloria about No Excuses. I don’t want to spoil it for you… BUT… Gloria Feldt is kick-starting again, this time with the wisdom of a mature warrior.
Listen to the entire interview at Interview4Obama.
© Maryanne Russel