What the Feminist Movement Needs

Cross posted on genfem.com

When I had dinner with my brother last week he asked me what battles were left for feminists to fight. To him, to most people, the very term “feminism” sounds outdated. Like “civil rights” it doesn’t get much airtime outside of the 1970’s chapter of American History textbooks.

I gave him a summary: abortion, unequal wages, sexual assault law, caretaker rights. I told him he’d be surprised how far we haven’t come. But his question is something I’ve been thinking about for awhile.

Most people, even educated liberals (my brother went to an ivy league college and he went to law school) don’t understand why the feminist movement is relevant anymore, and those in the movement haven’t provided clear answers. 

At the Reproductive Rights in Health Reform rally in New York on Friday, a recent college grad confessed that she didn’t really know why we were gathered there, but she knew that something bad for feminists was going on and she wanted to be involved.

I asked her if she knew what Stupak-Pitts was. She didn’t. I asked her if she knew about abortion issues in the health care bill. She had heard something about it, but not much. The handouts that were circulating assumed a basic knowledge that many people don’t have.

What the feminist movement needs, what people who aren’t in the movement need, is a simple, clear explanation of what the issues are and why they matter. I have yet to see any of the major feminist organizations, the newer groups and online magazines, or even this blog, provide it.

Michelle Haimoff is a writer, blogger and activist. Her writing has appeared in PsychologyToday.com, The Huffington Post and The Los Angeles Times. She is a founding member of NOW’s Young Feminist Task Force and blogs about First World Feminism at genfem.com.

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