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17 February 2006 @ 08:47 pm
Interesting observation  
I made an interesting observation today. I thought I might share it.

I have a firm belief in knowing all I can about a subject, if I am going to speak about it. This means I have to educate myself about things that are important to me. This often includes what I like to call "knowing thine enemy", as in knowing what is being said by people of opposing viewpoints about a subject. I am also aware that on the internet, one must be very careful about the quality of where they get their information. That being said, I went on a little hunt this evening to see some of the herstory of radical feminism. Mostly so that some of what we are talking about here makes more sense. As an anthropologist, knowing the background and how something came to be is a very important element to understanding your subject. So tonite, some of the basic information that I came away with was something that connected to an event earlier in the evening.

After work, I went to a local used bookstore that we have here in town. For those of you who don't know me, I am from Iowa City, Iowa, which is home to the University of Iowa. I wanted to take women's studies electives when I was a student here, and found a few that were combined with anthropology classes, but my main focus was physical(archaeology)and not cultural. Iowa City is about the most liberal city in Iowa and has a rich herstory and links to feminists ("Common Lives, Lesbian Lives", a strong GLBT presence, civil rights protections within city limits for GLBT people for over 20 years now).

So I am in this little used bookstore that I love, and I am perusing the women's studies section, searching for some of the author's I have seen here, for which I am not finding any. There was one book in particular, and I did not buy it, nor do I remember it's title or author, but I may have to go back tomorrow to get it. This book, on the back cover, summarized that as women develop, there is a time between age (don't quote me on this) approximately 2nd and 6th grade where they are heavily influenced by what they are seeing and being exposed to around them, and then this stops and they don't get to a true place of understanding this stuff they had been exposed to until they are adults. Like for a short time it makes sense in a big picture sort of way that we really don't have vocabulary for, and then we lose it and then get it back later in life.

One thing that I noted from my little herstory search tonite was that the most active time so far for radical feminism was in the late 60's into the mid-70's. I was born in 1969 to a mother who was 26 years old in 1969 and who was heavily influenced as a woman at Indiana University in the 60's by feminism and the women's movement. I was raised with "Free to Be, You and Me", Helen Reddy's "I am Woman" and Sesame Street). My mother was an art teacher, and always worked outside the home, but was free during summers in which we traveled all over the United States. My mother always travelled alone with us. To the outside world, she wanted people to see a strong independent woman who could take care of herself and her own. I don't think my mother has ever really sat down and analyzed feminist theory, but her sisters who wrote the famous writings and did the protesting, made it a safer world for her to do these things and she appreciated that. To me, she has always been the embodiment of feminism, because she lives a very free life, with as much equality as she can find. She surrounds herself with like-minded people and she makes decisions for herself. She has never allowed her husbands (my father and step-father) to ever demonstrate that they thought they had any control or power over her. She did not do any of these things in a threatening way. She was always loving, but insistent on her independence.

So, when I was in approximately 2nd through 6th grade, I was exposed to my mother's interest in the women's movement and my parent's support of ERA. It may not have made any sense to me at the time, but now as I am 36, I find that my desire to learn about feminism and cultural diversity is a value I hold very dear. It is something I am passionate about. So I guess now I have to go back tomorrow and find the book and buy it and read it so that I can actually post something meaningful from this interesting observation that went off like a lightbulb in my head tonite.

I will let you guys know the title and author of that book when I go back tomorrow, if I can find it again and someone hasn't bought it. I was disapointed to not find any MacKinnon, which was my ultimate goal in going in the first place, but they are going to keep eyes open for me for her books (people take books in to them and they buy them and then re-sell them. I collect antique books and have found quite a few gems there for about $4-$5 each. I want to find some of the lesbian pulp novels from the 50's but have had no luck yet.

Ok, so I will shut up now and wait for all of your wonderful responses to my meandering thought processes and look forward to seeing what you all make of this.

:-)
Gina
 
 
 
radfeministaradfeminista on February 18th, 2006 06:16 am (UTC)
????????
Guys?
wyndchaiser on February 18th, 2006 07:30 am (UTC)
sorry
Sorry, I am from a midwest rural community where "guys" is used most frequently as meaning "all of you". I like that you make me monitor my language and I will be more careful in the future. I hope nobody is offended, and you may occasionally see more of my less sexist Iowisms as we like to call them...grin.

:-)
Gina
radfeministaradfeminista on February 18th, 2006 10:20 am (UTC)
Sigh... I just typed a response and pushed the wrong button. Here we go again.

Posiibly the best herstory of Radical Feminism is Barbara Crowe in her Radical Feminism - A Documentary Reader, which is an anthology of original papers such as Hanisch's The Personal is Political and Woman-Identified-Woman by Radicalesbians. PC has many of these papers in it's library.

Two other excellent but more general herstories are Susan Brownmiller's In Our Time and Ruth Rosen's The World Split Open.
radfeministaradfeminista on February 18th, 2006 10:28 am (UTC)
Oh a couple of things to remember. It's often best NOT to trust things said about radical feminism, unless it's comes from a radical feminist. For instance, "most active time so far for radical feminism was in the late 60's into the mid-70's". I've seen this and often I wonder if this is not said by anti-feminists. Daly published GynEcology in 78, I believe. MacKinnon did a large amount of writing through the eighties and is a prolific writer. So what on earth does that statement mean?

That's one of the reasons that RFV was started because everyone comments on Radical Feminism and wants to define it out of existence.

Another maxim I have is to question everything. The effect is calling women guys, makes women and women lives rather invisible. Of course "guys" aren't going like it if someone comes in and issues a "Hello Gals".

Men have always made women invisible. Men ocupy both the male space and the neutral space which because of that isn't really neutral at all.
fishyfem on February 23rd, 2006 03:16 pm (UTC)
This book, on the back cover, summarized that as women develop, there is a time between age (don't quote me on this) approximately 2nd and 6th grade where they are heavily influenced by what they are seeing and being exposed to around them, and then this stops and they don't get to a true place of understanding this stuff they had been exposed to until they are adults.

This makes sense. I have a friend who comes from a very strict, born-again Christian family. Until very, very recently she barely stepped foot out of her evangical town. Her knowledge capacity is still limited in most every sense of the word; at age 21 she did not know what oral sex was!

Clearly, she had, and still does have, a negative image of those who simply want equality for her own sex. I, on the other hand, grew up with a mother who considered herself a feminist, though was by no means a radical. Quite possibly, she listened to Gloria Steneim tape while I was in the car. In 6th grade I was able to attend a special day of workshops at a local college, and the one that clearly struck me the most was one in which toy advertisers found it was better to use boys in commercials than girls. Girls would be less offended by boys placement in ads than boys would be by girls' placement in product advertisements (hey, whatever helps ya sell!).

Thanks for sharing that information, Gina.