tv Book Discussion CSPAN November 1, 2014 10:30am-11:54am EDT
>> here are some programs to watch on booktv this weekend. live on "in depth," historian michael korda discusses his many books and takes your calls. booktv visits colorado springs, colorado, to talk with the city's authors and take in its literary sites. on "after words," pulitzer prize-winning historian james mcpherson recounts the life of confederate president jefferson davis as well as books about america's security concerns, the creation of the computer and the internet and military dogs. for more information on this weekend's 48-hour television schedule, visit us online at booktv.org. >> up next, a panel discussion on feminism in the united states from the 1920s to today featuring the co-authors of the recently-published book "feminism unfinished." the program, hosted by new york university in new york city, is
about an hour, 20 minutes. [applause] >> good evening. i'm delighted to be here even though moderation is not really my strong suit. [laughter] i'm very glad to be here tonight as the moderator. and the book launch of "feminism unfinished: a short, surprising history of american women's movements" by -- well, i will introduce the authors in a little while. let me first just tell you what the format will be, and then i will introduce our three speakers. we will have short ten minute presentations by the three speakers, then we will give the authors five minutes apiece or so to respond to their comments, and then we will open it up to the audience for questions and comments. and then, of course, at the end,
at 6:30, there will be a reception with wine and cheese. so let me start by introducing in the order that they will speak the three speakers for this evening. michelle chen, a remarkably prolific journalist, writes on economic, social and political issues affecting women and low-wage workers in the u.s. and globally. her work has appeared in the nation, ms. magazine, dissent, huffington post, the american prospect, alternate, color lines, the progressive and other media outlets. she is a contributing editor at "in these times" and "culture strike" and co-produces the community radio program asia-pacific forum on pacific ca's wai. many of her articles are relevant to our discussion tonight, notably on women's movements in the middle east and latin america, sex discrimination in the restaurant industry, fast food strikes and
other low wage worker campaigns for better wages and decent treatment, women's reproductive rights and many other subjects. our second speaker will be jennifer baumgardner, a writer, activist and film maker whose work has chronicled and shaped the direction of feminism for the last two decades. in her best selling book "manifesta: young women, feminism and the future," co-authored with amy richards in 2000, jennifer galvanized a generation of feminists who came of age in the decades after the women's movements of the 1960s and '70s. manifesta's bold vision of activism continued in its 2005 sequel, "grass roots: a field guide for feminist activism," and in jennifer's other books. in addition to being a regular contributor to a wide range of magazines and other news outlets, she is the co-creator of the speaker's bureau, soap
box and the film maker behind the powerful documentary film, "it was rape" and "i had an abortion." in 2013 jennifer was named executive director and publisher of the february nist press. our -- feminist press. our third speaker is nancy hewitt, professor of women's studies and gender studies at rutgers university emeritus -- oh, god, i'm so envious. [laughter] internationally known for her essays and books on women's rights in the 19th and 20th centuries in the u.s. she takes seriously the voices of all women, which has inspired many young and old including the authors of february nhl unfinished. -- feminism unfinished. among her recent books, "no permanent wave: recasting histories of u.s. feminism." and her award-winning study
across race and ethnic lines, "southern discomfort: women's activism in tampa, florida, 1880s to 1920s." she is the recipient of the prestigious guggenheim fellowship, and in 2009 was named the pitt professor of american history at the university of cambridge. so i'm very delighted to welcome all three of them today and, michelle, if you would get can us started. >> thank you for coming, everyone. [inaudible conversations] >> speak at the podium, if you don't mind. >> yeah, i know -- [laughter] [inaudible conversations] >> thank you. well, this is much more official now that i'm standing. so, yes, thank you for inviting me to this distinguished panel for which i am totally not worthy, and i'm really glad to be a part of this discussion with a bunch of other women whose work i've been absorbing
either through osmosis or through some of my research and scholarly work over the years. so i think it's an interesting moment to be having a discussion like this, and i guess i'm going first, perhaps, because i'm the youngest or because i arrived last. but whatever it is -- [laughter] i just thought i'd start with something a little bit lighter to get people going. the media was abuzz this week with talk about, or chatter, rather, about emma watson's speech at the united nations in which she asked why has the word "feminism" become such an uncomfortable one? which was interesting, because i i thought the framing of her speech as well as her presentation was aimed explicitly at making the word feminism much more comfortable. and it got me thinking about why we should expect in this day and age to, for feminism to be
comforting or for that conversation to be somehow soothing or reassuring or designed to not alienate people. and i think that's a tension that feminists and the feminist movement in all its various incarnations halls always been -- has always been wrestling with both within itself, among its various factions and strands as well as intergenerationally and also with the wider public. so, and then i thought about, well, emma watson, well, she kind of invokes the whole trope of harry potter, and she's sort of in an interesting pop cultural position because she is sort of a girl and a child, and yet she's also this emerging woman, and she's sort of where we're watching her as she defines herself in life and on the screen for us. and i thought back to my first encounter with the language of feminism or with maybe the ideology of feminism.
i don't really think i had a name for it back then. i remember when i was in eighth grade, i had actually seen an ad in seventeen magazine -- so, yes, i'm beginning this talk with seventeen magazine. not a good way to start off a feminist lecture. so that was me, and i saw an ad soliciting volunteer writers for a start-up publication back then. it was actually on a real piece of paper. it was called "the new girl times." and they were asking for volunteers -- it was a short-lived publication, i don't even know how long it went on. but they were asking for contributors to their inaugural issue, and i was kind of a budding writer. i was working on my first zine at the time and just starting to get into the what i thought was the world of publishing on my mac plus. and so i wrote, and then i got an introduction to the magazine and sort of a preface on what it
was intended to be as a project. i was really struck by the sort of syrupy language it invocked and it was sort of -- invoked, and it was sort of a gullly attempt to making feminism powerful which was in the 1990s just sort of emerging as a consumer group then. i wasn't thinking about all of this since i was 14 years old and looking at the introduction, but something about it struck me as off. then i went to my computer, and i typed out a sort of an angry creed about why i was so fended that this publication had the audacity to call itself the new girl times was, you know, was trying to do this cutesy thing. they were taking women's issues and sort of dumbing them down and making them sort of fun and carry for free.
and -- care-free. so i published it in my zine, and they did sort of like a mock-up -- like, i did sort of a sendup of the publication itself because i kind of took -- i was into cut and paris then. that's how you did zines, if anybody remembers them, and they took a logo which was a mock-up of "the new york times" logo. i was angry, and then i sent it to the publisher of this publication and kind of awaited her feedback, and she wrote back with just like a single sentence and said, you know, i was -- i understand you won't be writing for us, i was deeply upset by what you wrote, so that's that. and i think i felt a pang of embarrassment, and i was sort of like, why did i do that? thinking about it now, i mean, i was a teen, and i was just blowing off steam, and i think i wanted to make a point about why feminism was silly then.
and now that a i look back at it, it sort of strikes me as my first encounter not just with feminism, but with also the ambivalence that surrounds feminism and kind of the internal conflict that is kind of inherent in it, especially in the way that people of my generation have inherited the movement and all of its political trappings and its language. so, and i think that even though i was sort of denouncing this version of february nhl that i thought was faux february nhl, i was also claiming feminism for myself even though i didn't really know what i was doing. and i wouldn't have called myself a feminist then. i can think of very few instances in which i've stood up and had to proclaim that i'm a feminist for anything. so with that anecdote, i just wanted to sort of think about that and maybe that'll help sort of situate where we are and maybe get you guys thinking about where each of you are in
terms of at what point did you encounter feminism as an idea and in what ways have you kind of wrestled with having to define it for yourself and to take ownership of that culture and that ideology. because if there's one thing that the book really shows, it's that there cannot be one feminism, and every time feminists -- feminism at a movement has had a setback has been when there's been one group attempting to have the preeminent definition of what feminism is, right? and that's a historical question, it's a question of race, it's a question of sexual identity, and it's a question of the way we conceive of the world of work. and feminism is all of these things, and yet it also needs to define itself outside of them because in embodying all of those things, it's also asserting the fact that it cannot belong to any single one of those things. so moving away from the new girl times, i just wanted to go back
to sort of where we are in the contemporary feminist debate, and i thought about contradictions that come up now that we see every day sort of playing out in the media. and i went to -- i want to quote britney cooper, her recent essay in "salon," and she was weighing in on this sort of perennial internal debate about whether feminism is dead, and we've spent lots of time in the book and also talking amongst ourselves about, you know, of course we all know, feminism is not dead, otherwise we wouldn't be talking about it. we need to go through this exercise or this ritual cleansing every few months or years or so that, you know, is feminism dead or not. so britney cooper weighs in, and she says -- as she talks about race and feminism in a way that i thought was really, really trenchant. she says -- and she talked about the difference in the way black women and white women will conceptualize feminism in their mind and how they relate to it
in their everyday lives. and she says: our feminism looks like an end to police repression of minority communities, access to quality public schools that do not expel our children for minor infractions and an end to the prison industrial complex which locks up far too many of our men and women, fracturing families and creating further economic burdens when our loved ones are released. we need comprehensive health care and access to abortion clinics, but we also need a robust mental health conclude system that can address racist, sexual and sexist motional trauma. we need good bay, yes, but we also -- pay, yes, but we also need good jobs. white women's feminism still center around equality. black women's feminism demands justice. there is a difference. one kind of feminism focuses on the policies that will help women integrate fully into the existing american system. the other recognizes the fundamental flaws in the system
and seeks its complete and total transformation. and i'll leave it to you to figure out which side of that spectrum, you know, you find yourself identifying with more, but -- and that's, of course, you know, it's completely your choice and a question of where you are in life. but i just wanted you to think about it as a spectrum, right? i mean, she's posing a binary here, but she's not forcing anyone to choose. she's asking for an inclusive dialogue. and she feels the more voice the other side is given, right, that that often comes at the expense of the voices of people who have long been disenfranchised, yes, because their women, but also -- they're women, but also for various other reasons. and we don't always think about that. and to be conscious of that is also part of what it means to truly be feminist and to claim that for yourself. and in the book, um, professor cobble writes, you know, just as tax cuts for the 1% do not produce a higher standard of living for for the 99%, so the
increased number of women at the top does not necessarily produce gains for women at the bottom. there is no trickle-down effect. and i think about what my podcasting colleague, sarah jackie, has said about the myth of trickle-down feminism which is that we believe in this neoliberal kind of laissez-faire mythology that there is sort of a logic of social justice that naturally flows out of capitalism, right? sor or that the free market will come up with the most just solution. and that's not really anyone's fault in particular. i mean, i think it comes from centuries of having it beaten into us that, you know, this is the way it must be done, and for real change to occur, then there is this sort of march of progress that every single institution has to go through whether it's the economy or domestic life or law or systems of, you know, bias and subjugation. and so two thoughts i want to leave you with now are these questions and conflicts that
kept recurring as i was reading the book. and all three of the sections that you wrote, you know, going through time. and, of course, we should wonder why we keep coming back to these questions because they seem unresolvable even after more than a century of feminism. so one is protection for women versus absolute equality. we saw with this early advocacy with the president's commission on the status of women and advancing kind of a socialist vision of feminism. and there's this constant tension between identity of treatment, so-called, right? not being the same as actual equality, right? and, of course, actual equality not being the same as equity. and this goes back to the question of what is justice. and the second question i wanted to leave you with is how do we prioritize rights, right? if we accept the fact that not everyone in world is starting from the same place, and that's why we need social movements so that people can move from one place to another, right? how do we triage kind of the struggles that we approach. and that's not to say we need to
choose our battles all the time, but how can we have them coexist in harmony with each other without forgetting about one or pursuing another in contravention of another. so we have this green the suffragists and the abolitionists over 150 years ago, and now we have sort of the intergenerational conflicts of third wave and the next wave of feminism or whatever the post-feminist world we live in. and, of course, this reflects on global questions, right, of not everything is proceeding on a timeline of economic progress and, of course, the progress of one country comes at the expense of another in many cases. so, you know, again, is feminism really whatever we define it to be as we have often been told? at least my generation has. or is there a certain ideology of feminism, is there a moral, ethical line that we all need to keep in mind as we build this movement and make it more diverse? and so that's -- [applause]
>> i just started needing reading glasses, so when i look out here, i'm going to have to take them off. i've just gotten into that zone. so i'm jennifer baumgardner, and, first of all, i want to thank you for making this book. i think it's meaningful and moving to me to have something that's scholarly that tells the story of people i know and things that i was a part of and kind of writes a book that i wish i had had when i was young and learning about feminism. i feel like i cobbled together all sorts of things because i was so hungry for the history. and to see it reframed in new information and new ways for me to think is really invigorating. i feel like i have a really -- i do think about feminism generationally a lot.
not just that way, but it speaks to me, and i think it was because my mom was a feminist. there was ms. on the coffee table and mom saying you shouldn't be a cheerleader. there was this relationship that was about a mom, literally. but i also think it's because this is a visibility issue. so the most visible moments, and even though you destabilize this in the book, the most visible moments around the last 100 years of feminism, when people think about the feminist movement, they think about the '60s, the '70s, or often people do. it was sort of the greatest hits, and it's taught as history, and all the important stuff was done correctly 50 year ago, and what are you doing? that's how i experienced it, and i'm sure i was projecting in a self-negating way on myself, but i remember feeling that way. now i currently, in addition to being a feminist press, i run these camps with amy richards called feminist camp, and every
day we go deep into a feminist issue. could be prison, women in incarceration, reproductive justice, could be sex work. we go deep into that issue and have lots of meetings, and on our first meeting we always ask people sort of how they came to feminism and maybe what their definition is, and it's always fascinating. often times people will say -- like a 25-year-old living now with beyonce and everything that's going on right now in their life -- and they'll say i feel like i was born at the wrong time. i wish i'd been born when abortion was illegal and, you know, you couldn't get a job if you were a woman. [laughter] you know, you had to take valium all the time, you were so depressed. i wish i'd been born there. i relate to that. when i first moved to new york, i worked at ms. magazine, and i remember feeling like, god, i really missed out on the good stuff, you know, when people were really rebellious and revolutionary, and they were doing important things, and every day their day was made up
with meaningful work. and i'm never going to get that opportunity because of when i was born. like, i was just kind of grousing about that. sort of how i also wanted to be an actress, and because i was raised in fargo, north dakota, i will never get that opportunity because i don't know anyone in new york who can help me with my career. i'm kind of handing off the volition to have the life that i wanted to have, to have the feminist life i wanted to have to somebody else to hand to me. and it's taken a long time, and i think it's something every generation struggles with to just be able to frame and understand the era that i'm a part of, the community that i'm a part of and do something within that that's meaningful and to acknowledge when i have done that. it was very hard for me to own my ideas. i think one of the reasons that manifesta is so steeped in relationship to second waves, sometimes just really cannonnizing or, you know, cheerleading the second wave, the reason it was so connected is because i wasn't really sure
what it would mean to own what i was doing, to own what i was saying. was i allowed to have a definition of feminism that made sense to me? was i allowed to really have an opinion about abortion if i hadn't known a time when it was illegal? or was i just hopelessly narrow in my consciousness because i'd never known that time? it took a long time for me to figure out maybe i had some specific vantage point that could be useful by having been entitled to certain things. so i was kind of making a little note before i came up here of all of the things that i've done professionally, and i was realizing how second wave they are, how connected they are to second wave. so i grew up with ms. on the table, as i already said, and then i got to college, and i discovered feminism, and i literally was like the housewives moment of truth, that's me. not married, you know, in college, not -- don't have kids, don't do housework, but i really felt deeply the angst, and i
felt deeply the frustration and unfairness. but i think i was kind of putting a square peg in a round hole. i was taking an experience that i felt and then attaching it to experiences that were not my own. like, i couldn't have that outrage if i hadn't had these same experiences. after that a i moved to new york and began working at ms. magazine and meeting all these different women's liberationists. that was sort of like my seventeen magazine where i'd be like, okay, roxanne dunbar ortiz? i'm going to go meet her. i really did and got to be part of their stories of feminism, and it gave me back, again, it gave me all of this access that i think i was really craving in order to come into my own as a feminist and own my words. i remember when amy richards and i were first writing manifesta, i'd been working for years and years and year, and she said you know what i think we should do? we should say what it is. we should make sure we said what it is, you know, for just the
random reader, and then we both sat there and said, what is it? i'd worked in feminism for years, and i'd never been asked to define it. we went to the dictionary, and we took that dictionary definition which is the movement for full political, social and economic equality of all people, and we wrote that down. and then we decided how we could add to that a. and we kept adding to the it. and now it's, whatever, 15, 20 years later, and i'm still adding to that definition for myself. to me, feminism -- while i do think it has core strengths, core ideologies, core things that it stands for, it's incredibly iterative and evolved. and my understanding of it evolves every single year and gets deeper depending on experiences i'm having, depending on how much i'm connecting to my life. so my current definition of feminism at point -- so what we added to it in the book is access to enough information and resources to make meaningful, authentic, real decisions about your life. so maybe you would choose to
shave, maybe you would choose not to shave, but you had chosen. feminism was in the air, and you had the ability to make a decision. since then the way that i've been thinking about feminism the most and what i'm grateful for with feminist theory and philosophy is i think that feminism an invitation. it's so hard to bring all parts of yourself into a room, all the experiences you've had. societies, you know, over and over we don't want to hear about that, we don't want to hear about the abortion, we don't want to hear about your sexuality, about incest, we don't want to hear about sadness, about shoplifting. and so many things that happen to girls and women especially, i think, are just too much. we don't want to hear about it. and i think feminism provides resources and space, actually space, so that you can bring all the parts of yourself, all your experiences, everything that's happened to you, that has shaped you into the room. and to tell the truth. and that, to me, has always been the meaningful anchor point to
feminism for me. so it was interesting hearing michelle talk about comfort, because i have found feminism deeply comforting in the sense i was able to integrate can, i think, myself more. and i guess that's also what i think of as my way of practicing feminism. doesn't need to be other people's, but all of the projects i've ever done -- i had an abortion campaign, there was a rape project, the kind of things that i do when i'm speaking on college campuses, i try to create a space for people to be able to tell the truth about what has happened to them, and sometimes all i'm giving back is i'll listen and saying i'm so sorry that happened to you, or i'll share something, some other story that someone has entrusted to me. and to me, that therapeutic attitude is incredibly powerful. and the ability to kind of step out from the things we're afraid to talk about and to own those experiences has guided my feminist politics for my adult life. and i continue to peel back my
own denial and to try to gain consciousness about what's already happened to me. so, for instance, right now i'm working on a big project about slut shaming. i've known for years, i've known since i was 15 that my sister was raped when she was 14, and she was called a slut, and there was like that transformation that happens where the girl is blamed for the thing that happens to her, and it took us years and kind of reading feminist books and talking to feminists before we were able to retrieve some language and say, wait, what happened to andrea, my sister, was not exactly just that she was a slut, this bad thing had happened to her, and she was blamed for it, and that's unjust. so we were able to retrieve parts of our lives that we share, and i'm learning how much that affected me, how much i identified myself as not a slut and found ways to distance myself from andrea at the same time that a i was trying to support her. and i think i see that in the ways in which we are all, you know, everybody decries slut
shaming and there's so much interest in that in the media, but how little we're able to move the needle. same with abortion rightings. it's because i believe we really deeply embody ambivalence around women's power, women's rights, women's humanity. and it's an incredible thing to say. and so the more that we can actually just face the truth of what has happened to us, it provides some sort of path to, i think, larger social justice. thank you. [applause] ..
by placing multiple movements and campaigns and myriad organizations and actors over the last century they offer a robust half for contemporary activists and also renewed hope for those of us who live for as many backlashes as advancements. i can't begin to capture in ten minutes all the strength and subtleties of this book so instead i will use my time to suggest how feminism -- "feminism unfinished: a short, surprising history of american women's movements" makes clear the need to shift our metaphors. the standard conception of three oceanic waves with a more nuanced understanding offered by radio waves. garrison and i have been thinking along these lines since the late 1990s and in 2005
article based on her research on new subcultures and technologies she captured what we both thought, a wave metaphor that registers different, multiple and simultaneous frequencies. radio waves also embody splits of hierarchies of power through rotted volumes, geographical reach and taken together these characteristics allow us far greater flexibility in engaging feminist waves as the as the oceanic model. oceanic framing is especially problematic for those of us who work on the nineteenth century. since the self-proclaimed second wave of which i was part trumps all of our predecessors the entire suite of american women's rights and feminist activism from the 1840s into one long american women's rights and
feminist waste. despite the incredible range of factors and campaigns in that period, abolitionist feminism, working women's league, birth control, goldman and free love, we could go on and on the first wave is almost universally framed by something that carries the soil from the seneca falls woman rights convention of 1948 to the eradication of the nineteenth amendment in 1950 grafting women's suffrage. since it is impossible to add more oceanic waves before 1960 since the second wave of the concept is so entrenched in the historical record and dark eyes and library catalogs and popular thinking, the decade excluded, we have to come up with a new metaphor. over the decades excluded from the standard chronology, most notably 1920 to 1960 had become
feminist free zones before the work of dorothy sue cobble him made sure we know that is just not so. in addition as astrid henry points out the term third wave seems to stress this new wave was an improvement over what came earlier. too often leaving younger activists to describe the previous generation in monolithic character cheered ways to present themselves as the approved version of feminism. my generation pushed back against this tendency those sometimes by turning that on its head and caricaturing the third wave who was a caricatureing us. that doesn't get as too far. we in the second wave invented this modus operandi a critiquing our nineteenth century form as predominantly white and
middle-class, overly serious and respectable and focused on their own political goals but my generation also critiques our own movement. all the women are white, all the blacks up the planned other critiques of white class privilege were written by second wave feminists and women's studies and women's history courses, we develop and wheel did very effectively regeneration against the movement that i thought we were part of. this repeated pattern of recognition and criticism of earlier feminist efforts it is promoted by an oceanic metaphor in which each waves overwhelms and exceeds the one before it thus obscuring the common struggles feminists have faced from the 19th century to the present. these include the way sex
discrimination is always intertwined with race and class, the complicated relations between u.s. feminism and global campaigns for social justice, conflict over the place of sexually, gender and men in women's rights campaigns, the role of new technologies in building a movement and so on. the beauty of feminism and finished is it captures the contested priorities, distinct strategies and heated debate that occurred in a specific time and the common threads and challenges feminists face across a century of activism. this addresses the struggles they confronted and integrating race, class and ethnic issues into campaigns focused around women and gender and vice versa. dorothy sue cobble shows the social justice feminist of the 1920s and 1950s in fused labor
campaigns with feminist and anti racist demands but they couldn't convince the national woman's party of the same era which continued to consider sex the primary form of discrimination into the equal rights amendment. social justice issues grew many women activists with their work in the civil rights and anti-war movement shaping their feminist agenda as of priority. also note the largely separates white african-american american indian, asian american, chicano, lateen and working-class feminist groups and organizations that developed created distinct agendas, priorities and strategies even as they often tried to forge crucial alliances. the central role of women and
color, the pain sensitivity, and among current generations of feminists and demographic and technological changes that increase the possibility of truly multiracial and global organizing. also note that a lack of historical perspective and continued existence of class and white privilege which is not gone away lead to continued conflicts even within that movements in and gives examples like the advocacy of lenin in that eco problems of the past. i want to challenge one argument in the book, not surprisingly from the chapter on women's liberation which is where i encountered feminism initially. linda gordon argues the separation of generations from the national organization for women and women's liberation did
not last long because the movement became vastly larger and more varied. coming from a small city in new york where feminists supposedly overcame their differences more easily and embracing women's liberation in 1969 i experience those generational and ideological divisions as significant for a very long time. in some ways i found them exacerbated by feminist's rapid growth. at the same time i agree with linda gordon's claim for the regenerative possibilities created by the distinct feminist campaigns launched by african-american, american indian, latina, chicano and asian american feminists. she suggests these multiple streams strengthen rather than weaken the movement and i would argue is that this same could be said for the ideological
differences among predominantly white feminist groups. as a scholar i recognize the efficacy of multiple movements attacking the same issue from diverse perspectives and strategies. as an activist i still side with collective multiracial and social justice efforts and i still have never joined the national organization for women which doesn't mean they don't do some of this work, it is just cut my roots in community-based multiracial cross class women's organizing has always made me feel like i just can't go there. maybe i just hold resentment nicks much longer, may just be personality. this is a small caveat. in a book that analyzes each is close to my scholarship and the year to my heart this is my only substantive disagreement and it is generative as disagreements are. by offering complex and nuanced
narratives of activism over the last amity, "feminism unfinished" demonstrates astonishing feminist wave lengths and a rich array of organizers, protesters, newspapers, magazines, art exhibits, websites that extend the reach of each version of the movement. feminist radio waves allow us to think about the movement in terms of different frequencies that occur simultaneously. movements that grow louder or fade out, reach national audiences or community radio audiences, movements marked by static interruptions or frequent changes of channels and movements temporarily drowned out by another frequency but suddenly come in loud and clear. radio waves are much as feminist ideas are in the air even when people are not actively listening. best of all radio waves do not supersede each other.
rather signals coexist, overlapping and even interfere with one another. they can move to new frequencies, you can move to new frequencies or return to the oldies station where you feel really comfortable. rather than the first, second or third wave we can be w n y c of feminism or corporate broadcasting system, or the fans, w. b. geo or al-jazeera all of which are available on line as well as on the air. kevin -- "feminism unfinished" encourages us to explore signals and echoes across time, space and movement without assuming we must rank them as being superior in terms of inclusive eddie, progressiveness or transformation and when we can embrace those differences, and always will become vastly harder and more powerful.
thank you. [applause] >> thank you, michelle, jennifer, nancy. forgive me for having to show that horrible one minute less paper to you just when you were getting the most interesting points. we now will have a brief comments from the three authors of the book. dorothy sue cobble teaches at rutgers university, she is a distinguished prof. of history and labor studies. linda gordon is university professor of history and humanities at new york university and at 11 is the chair of women's studies so we will start with you.
>> thank you. great. thanks so much for those remarks. thank you for putting so much care and thought into it. i really appreciate what you said about the book. you also raised a lot of very interesting issues i want us to have time to address. issues of identity, priority, language, how we describe the history of feminism. i want to take a few minutes just to talk about the women that i write about in my chapter. i think the agendas they pursued for 50 years that i write about is actually a 50 year period that for a long time people called the gold room years. can you imagine this? a whole half century of feminism when there wasn't supposed to be
anything happening? it turns out there was a lot happening from the 1920s to the 60s so i want to say a few words about those women because what they fought for which was an exclusive agenda of women's rights and social justice is very much back on the table today and i think the way they went about it, their strategies, we should look back to and resuscitate. i am going to just take a minute to do that. before i do that i want to thank a few other people. i want to thank n.y.u. and norton for hosting us tonight and all so thank so many of you for being there, really happy to see my friends and colleagues out there, and my family. i also want to extend a special
welcome to raptors prep middle schoolers and they are teachers, to democracy press. i am sorry. raptors press is where my daughter went to school, democracy press is where she now teaches. if you could raise your hand we are very glad to have you here with us. [applause] >> and i know that all of the prepared questions for us too so i hope we have time for that. my last thank you is to my co-authors. we have been working together for a couple of years. i had no idea what it was going to be like to write a book with two other people. i want to thank you for your sanity, your wisdom, your generosity and your hard work. okay. i did want to take a minute to
talk about some women and folks not in this room. i think we are very particular moment right now. a very promising moment. the new republic calls this an unprecedented moment for feminism, a game changer, a tipping point. i think the question really is how we can take that enthusiasm that i see erupting all around, the surveys now show that women under 30 close to a majority of them identified as feminists. celebrities are coming out of the closet everyday, claim themselves as feminists. the question is how we can take that enthusiasm and move it to the next stage. i think that the women that i write about have something to
teach us about this. they argued that it will take a movement. and i think that is part of what inspired this book. is not just going to be about individual women making it into the corporate board room or individual women moving into politics. it is going to take a movement. they also argued that it would take a diverse and inclusive movement and so many of our panel speakers have made that clear. most importantly, or equally important is that they argued that the women's movement should and will be about more than sex equality. it is about sex equality but also has to be about other issues. they look to the labor movement at that moment in time and the
civil rights movement because those were the two cute progressive movements that were making massive changes. they engage with those movements, they also pushed for women's rights. one reviewer has said that this was a group of women that were not feminists. let me go on record to say they were. they introduced the equal pay act in 1945. they introduced it every year until it passed in 1963. they pushed president kennedy to establish the president's commission on women. that commission called for universal child care for legislation that would make it more possible for workers to organize and challenge corporate power. a whole host of things that i
think i've very much back on the agenda. it was a revolution that was unfinished and what is exciting for me is to see some of those things being back with us and being pursued. i look around and we know there is progress on so many of these issues. the living wage ordnances, paid parental leave campaigns, new attention to child-care and elder care, fast food strikes, fair scheduling. says these issues are back with us. i think we also need to look to that movement to think about how we create movements that are inclusive. if we are going to make a better world for women i don't think we can do that without making a better world for all. thank you very much.
[applause] >> thank you so much to all of you and particularly jessica coffee who set this all up and barbara but particularly to michele and jennifer and nancy who in some ways we invited because we saw them as representing a range of what feminism is doing these days. when the left first became a political term and a proud political term in the french revolution as i am sure you know, feminists were very important we involved. that has been the case in every progressive movement since then and it still is.
feminism has of course tee galloped in a variety of ways. there are even republican feminists. i have read their are tea party feminists and i recently learned from my own research there were feminists in the ku klux klan. these come under the rubric of feminism because they believe in he quality with men. just like dorsey just said, we came together out of a sense we wanted to talk about a stream of feminism that had much larger ambitions and that is pretty ambitious because even eat quality with men is pretty far from where we are today. we want to talk through and think through the career of
multiple -- a short book that is not particularly scholarly. there are not allowed of footnotes, trying to write for a general audience. it will be up to you whether we have succeeded in doing something useful with that but i want to try to enunciation general terms what we came together about and that is we find feminists' everywhere. working group's with only women but often groups with men. they were in occupied. they are prominent in the movement against climate change. d. a. are in every anti-war movement in the world but they are also in every entire colonial and anti imperialists movement even what we are fighting. feminists actually led every
struggle from child welfare, public health, they read everywhere in the struggle for universal free education, they are working today to reform and free religion on the planet. they have been the backbone of every anti racist movement in the united states starting with the abolition movement in the nineteenth century and today women together with immigrants are the best hope there is for strengthened labor movement. i mention movements that are not usually defined as feminist not because i want to diminish the shoes like abortion or sexual freedom but instead i want to suggest that what this all amounts to is a radical statement that male dominance plays a part in all of the injustice and suppression of
human potential. feminists have never been perfect. they never all agree with each other. probably agreement isn't something that they should strive for because there is plenty of evidence a variety of different movements have as much or not more of an impact than trying to universalize together, the last thing i would say harkening back to something michele opened with is it is time to reclaim and make comfortable the word feminism, not because of what it is as a word but what it is as a concept of how much work there is to be done in the world. [applause] >> i want to thank especially
our two speakers, michele, jennifer and nancy for everyone, for one -- i want to thank and when that and dorothy sue cobble. we had many wonderful times are around linda's dining room table. a lot of involved good food and wine at the end of the day. it was a really wonderful process of putting this book to get there so i am grateful to be here celebrating the launch of this book. like jennifer, i grew up -- a feminist father who was also a feminist professor so i had an interesting role model and i grew up identifying as a feminist from a really early age. my mom said she could remember me using that term at 6 years old so i am part of the generation that took it for
granted and it was only later in college and in the early 90s, thinking about a lot lately with all this stuff about rape on campus and generational shift from 20 years ago. i started reading how intense my own relationship was to feminism and identification much like jennifer's to this earlier wave of feminism that i very much fall in love with and identify with and had a sense of why could i have lived there and at that time it would have been so exciting. that is where i started getting interested in this work and probably one of the things that is most difficult about writing my section and the reviewer in the chicago tribune review called it a daunting task was to try to write about the present is very difficult.
it is difficult to know where you are going to start or end or how you are going to frame it. that was one of the challenges that i had and ever since i rocked the book and it was finished more or less, so many things happening. this last week high felt i should have talked about that. it is hard to write about the present so i will say i will start with that. we really did want to try to tell the different story and to disrupt that idea of the way and disrupt the white middle-class heterosexual feminist history be focused on entry into the corporate world, equality with white men around pay equity and things like that. i hope we have done that.
what nancy talked about, i like a metaphor as a replacement. allows us to think about ways in which feminism is out there on different channels, people come in to it, and growing a bit of feminist household, i worked with students who were half my age or younger than that, and didn't grow up like that. this weird thing where feminism is old, and always knew for many people and that is the way of metaphor that prevents us from seeing that, and many people discovering feminism today for the first time in the way people describe doing it with those click moments in the 60s and the radio waves help us to think about that, we are tuning in to different radio channels. one of the goals of our book and
one of the goals of the chapter that i wrote was to really show how feminism today is very decentralized. it has many diverse forms. the internet has radically changed the medium by which feminism is being explored, and diversified agenda as michele was saying so on one hand we have a figure like cheryl standard to is arguing a similar message of feminism the book was trying to critique. at the same time a much more radical as progressive agenda michele alluded to in her discussion, always embracing a whole range of progressive issues, the corporate work force. that was one of our main goals. as a professor, as a professor,
i love the idea of these tensions, irresolvable tensions we have in feminism and that is why i love teaching, women sexually studies, it is here resolvable. we have these tensions, there from history all the way to the present. i love that. where do we put our body and where are we going to stand and think about that? thinking a lot about age and aging, i am now 48 years old, i started writing about third wave feminism, i was considerably younger. i have students all the time who are very nostalgic for feminism, as they wished they were -- that they could have made scenes, they want to know what it was like back then. i am thinking a lot about aging and nostalgia and i wanted to end and say it is so wonderful
to have the students from democracy, they are the future of feminism and let's keep it going. [applause] >> thanks to all of you and thanks to my imposition of strict discipline. we have 20 minutes less for questions and comments but i will ask you to keep your questions and comments relatively quick so we can take as many as time permits. we have the mike. here is the mic. >> do you want -- i would really love to hear what their views of
feminism are. >> feminism means to advocate -- to get equality with them because a lot of women were denied jobs that help hold up their family and those jobs are only given to men. i think feminism is okay for a woman to get the same legal rights. as a man. >> i was searching for a new president for and why you and several men cavett referring to the future noon named president as if it had already been determined he would be a man so i appreciate your remark. >> i want to be fair because at
the beginning of the lecture, very poignant and talk at the un because all the excerpts on the media regarding that speech at the talk in a certain way and a very important point she made that was never part of the excerpt is the role of men in the feminist movement. the book the second sex, one thing she said is actually when a woman had a right to was because of men. when they started having it was women teaming up with men and the men who had the power to give the vote to women to keep the men in congress is what the word feminism mentor you were brought up by a feminist man. i've is brought up by a feminist man too. a woman or enough men, and i
think even though maybe ammo what is not militant like her speech, having dinner conversations with her 13-year-old sister who was enraged about some men putting pictures because of that speech and the passion of my sister, they can come here tonight because i don't know. they think it is about inclusive movement and not anymore -- not like movement about women but society. i want to know your opinion about the role of men inside the feminist movement. >> a few more and then to the panel. >> one more time, talking about relationships and how they are moderated. the person -- what i relate to
refers to gay marriage for example. something maybe you have seen as part of the progressive movement, it is reinforced by gay marriage, regressive in that it reinforces a patriarchal dynamic mature, quote, relationship fans there might be civil unions or multiple unions, and options that are progressive and whether you think gave marriage is moving things forward or not. how it affects progress. >> i will do this very short hands. i am very interested in the promise you suggested of diversity, multiple kinds of feminism, interesting, and wonder if you did speak to how your work is raised to the
critique given by someone like nancy frazier, the ways in which feminism has coopted. a do you positions this book in relation to those? >> take one more. >> which one do you want? >> as a group, how do you -- >> the last one. >> do you would judge how black feminism is different from white woman feminism in the book? >> a good moment. >> you do. >> let me comment on a couple of the questions and you can comment as well. the women that i write about
from the 1920s to the 1960s worked with other women but to the question about the role of men they also were very involved in mixed sex movement said and there were tensions in those movements so that men were much more allies john things like raising the minimum wage for encouraging labor rights. a minimum-wage is something that affects men but it is also a women's key issue and the majority, something like 67% of minimum-wage workers are women but their pretensions on other issues like sexual harassment and things like that. one of the things i learned in writing this book is how dependent the progress of women is on larger progressive social movements existing so the civil
rights movement was incredibly important in terms of addressing the needs of african american women. women are diverse and so is not a surprise there are notions of liberation and freedom and equality would be diverse and we have fin better at the dressing some women's issues than others and i think it is important for us to realize the even when we passed suffrage, that was not for giving all women the right to vote for african-american women was not until 1965. about the question but i am not sure i buggery, because nancy is significantly more than we want. it is certainly true, it is
certainly true that in some ways feminism can be said to enhance a set of privilege is that artists easily and quickly enjoyed by the us to have other privileges in society, those who are wealthy, the 2 are white and so on but that does not mean that we don't have to support those the issues. i have friends who refuse to get married for some of the reasons we talk about. and the thing a marriage is a problem, it seems to be absolutely clear to my friends that gay people have every right to enjoy every one of the benefits of marriage. the same thing is true about the kind of women cheryl standard is speaking about when she speaks about women struggling to break the glass ceiling and become ceos. it is not a cause that particularly excites me but those women have every right to
absolute equal treatment so i think we can separate our priorities without necessarily getting movement's less radical than we might want them to be. >> on the issue of marriage that is another one of those long standing tensions and differences within feminism. this past week in my feminist theory class i was teaching charlotte perkins's gil men from 1920 and women and economic where she makes a strong argument against marriage and to envision something we never achieved in terms of new forms of living and students were released truck by how does this compare with the more mainstream gay-rights agenda today, it is so different that this attention is there and on going. as an activist you have to take a side on where you are going to fight but i love the these tensions are there in whatever
feminism and gay-rights are today. >> i want to respond to your question about black feminism and white feminism. there are discussions of it in the book and i won't try to summarize those for the authors that are sitting here but i want to make the point that there is a danger in opposing black feminism and white feminism as two entities that knows what each of them things. i love britney cooper's work by worried there's a tendency to categorize these as though white feminism is always less radical, less social justice oriented than black feminism is always about a totally inclusive agenda that is concerned about the course of the poor and the most oppressed of the oppressed. among white feminists and among black feminists there are many variations and i think one of the places we need to look more
closely is multiracial feminist movements and white and tie racist feminists and feared world alliance feminists who have tried to bridge what had been very difficult obstacles, challenges, differences and friary's but those racial differences are always crosscut by differences in sexual alley, differences in class, differences in other forms of privilege. i would hate to see us think of this in binary terms. there are multiple feminisms and racial breakdowns of those feminisms and that is true in the 1840s and the 1890s and the 1930s ended is true now. >> yes, i do think that it is problematic to think about anything as by gary and one of
the things when i first read prof. laps work was inspired by was the fact there was always a consciousness in every way of of feminism that there were other struggles and parallel struggles, and there were tense moments and conflicts when people thought the one group would be right at the expense of another. but i also think jeff says feminism should be inclusive of men and is important to understand any conflict wrestled with within a movement is always in the service of making it more inclusive, not to settle for their futures or too hard and definitions because the fact that there are different groups
claiming this one thing as their own means that everyone needs to rethink what it is. >> i think feminism is inclusive of men and has been and continues to be handed destabilize ideas of gender been a script, the jenna trivia you are born with tells you what your future is going to be the men's gender, there have been big beneficiaries of the game of feminism and everything we're seeing reminds me of this at the brooklyn but festival in a penalty to go and it was -- wesley jameson, i agreed to questions which cheryl sandberg discussed it where we end up is we love both of them and i feel it deeply, i am inspired by both of them. they are very unattainable will models in a way but they give permission to be ambitious and as i said i think there is a lot
of resistance to our own lives. >> we have time for a couple more questions. >> how can i be an active feminist? what can i do? what can i do to help you? >> everyday offers opportunity to be a feminist in your own life and so much of it is about looking around your actual life, who is in your life, what is going on and what are the things you are noticing that concern you? one thing when i am talking to younger people like here all the time our dress code looks like you have uniforms and that gets around the dress code classically are applied in
sexist, racist ways. talking about that, what does it mean? how we get dressed and what does it mean to have our appearance be policed because it is dangerous to express ourselves. >> oh while. >> i would like to know how you would respond to people who disagree about your ideas about feminism and why would you respond that way? >> let's take the three questions. >> actually, back then, people would actually make these laws that would be unfair to women? why do you think men felt this
work of -- a feel like they should be the ones who get all this stuff? >> really good question. >> i want to ask all the authors how do they think they contributed to feminism? >> i will start the last question. what men did that is too complicated. i don't think i can answer that but the question about how to i think i have contributed? i think i contribute most as a teacher actually. i of teaching and working with students. what is great is my students are always asking me new questions and bringing in new ideas and i learn so much from them and i am
staying engage with feminism. i am not a professional activists. i am not sort of out there fighting for particular causes although i do do political work but i enjoy teaching and talking to people and reading things and talking about them so that is how i'd do it but that is one of many ways you can do something. >> i also thing going back to what i said that you can to feminism in an awful lot of different contexts. i was in the big march against climate change because right now it seems to me one of the biggest issues we face, we are talking about our planet possibly being destroyed and i actually do think male supremacy has something to do with that because there was a kind of notion that we as humans should just take and grab whatever we
could for the sake of profit but also just for the sake of building things and making things that are bigger and better and we need to step back and think about our emphasis on more money, more production and so on. think about nothing like that and think about it. [applause] >> a question about how you respond to people who don't -- really good question. >> i would say i think the way i respond to people who disagree with me has changed enormously over the course of my life. when i was in the women's liberation movement i was not known as a particularly diplomatic person and it felt like i had a lot of rage against
the war in vietnam and a lot of rage against males of for a messy, a lot of rage about injustices a round race and all of those things rushed into my mind and my politics in the fall of 1969, that is when i met all those problems and all those issues and recognize the man's problems and people who disagree with me were just wrong. each area they had to be convinced or they weren't worth talking to and of course you realize some of the things you thought might have been wrong and they might not have been the best strategies and you really do need people coming that the issues from different perspectives and there are other ways to deal with the problems in the world than raging against them. it is gives you a sort of perspective for gave me a perspective that allowed me to hear what other people are saying when they disagreed with
the end to try to inc. that thinking in to my own ideas. it had been a very long learning curve for me to try to think about how you actually -- i found teaching one of the most useful ways to think about that because when students ask questions and they disagree with you, you can't rage at them, you have to try to explain what you think and listen deeply to what they think. being a professor helped me a lot in parts of my life. >> i went through the same thing and i think when i was young i didn't really listen to other people very well and i think listening and trying to understand where people coming from and what their reasons are for disagreeing with you is just extremely important. >> if i could say something, men feel they deserve to be
privileged, several of the us on this panel are historians and one of the things about historian studying the past is how a certain world operate so people living in that world see things as normal, things we don't see as normal we see as unjust, so how do people decide to take the history into their own hands and show that something doesn't have to be normal, it could be seen as not normal for whites to have more powers in blacks or men staff more powers and women so part of it is part of the mystery of the past, how do people think these things were ok? and how do people get the idea they could show men and women okay? >> that question was great. so glad -- totally d