Where are we as activist feminists after the disastrous confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court? I chose the above photo of Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford for its strong and cheerful outlook, despite the pain I think we all are feeling. Anita Hill, too – she is still out there kicking! There is so much pride and joy in seeing a woman stand up to power the way she did. And I have much hope that this will re-energize our work.
I haven’t written for a long time, myself reeling from the painful dismantling of the Minnesota Legislative Office on the Economic Status of Women more than a year ago. My project has been on hold (since before that) to publish a video and book series (Unfinished Business) highlighting the way forward for our movement, based on interviews with 36 women in 8 states. (You can still see the first few episodes I did publish – just surf below on this blog.) Two reasons for the hiatus. One, while I am strongly supportive of Black Lives Matter, the movement for transgender rights, and the vital importance of “intersectionality” with all human rights and environmental issues, I often felt the energy was lacking for focus on what I now call the classical women’s issues. Two, I have been enjoying and working on what it means to be retired, exploring community, health, relationships, family, and creative undertakings I had neglected for all those workaholic years.
By the way – What are the classical women’s issues? I’ve simplified the 30+ issues from the Houston Plan of 1976 and Beijing Platform of 1985 to these five dreams: 51% representation of women everywhere; health and health care that recognizes and supports women’s bodies as central to the human condition; human rights and self-determination including abortion rights, lesbian rights, and right to an equal education; safety and peace in our homes, communities, and the world; and economic justice including earnings, business, child support, pensions, and ending poverty.
But now, as we are all still reeling from daily Trump horrors, rise of the echoing right wing everywhere including our once-progressive Minnesota, and this Kavanaugh thing, I feel a little seed of energy coming back for “women’s work” – and hope you might, too. I am reminded of the confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas, when Anita Hill powerfully spoke out. There too it seemed we lost. But the women’s movement was revitalized. I dare to quote from In the Company of Women (Watkins and Rothchild, Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1996):
“In 1991, the Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and the treatment of Anita Hill for her testimony on sexual harassment re-energized the movement. The growing conservative mood of the country and the heightened power of the political Right brought home the fragility of women’s gains. For many early feminists, none of this came as a surprise. They had settled in for the long haul…”
Well, I am constantly surprised by the depth of misogyny and the shamelessness of patriarchy/capitalism. But I am in this for the long haul! I can’t say much more right now in part because I am working hard for the elections coming in just a few weeks. But I hope you are there, maybe thinking and working and getting ready for another powerful wave of love, joy, laughter, and fixing the world.
PS: You may have come to this page seeking a group called US Women Connect, a member organization of the Minnesota Women’s Consortium. I hope you will hear more about, and be a part of, THAT, in the months to come. It’s on my agenda.