Last Thursday, I watched Kathy, Kathy Griffin’s new weekly late night talk show on Bravo. The outspoken comedian, who supports abortion and LGBTQ rights, talked about how she attended the Feminist Majority Foundation and Ms. Anniversary Gala in which she honored her icon Gloria Steinem. While Griffin spoke, the print at the bottom of the screen read: “The New Feminists? Where are they?” She then questioned, why don’t young women know who Steinem is? (Really, do people not know??) Then Griffin said:
“I feel like the feminist movement is gone.”
Sigh. I love you Kathy. I do. Although I wish you’d stop your fat-shaming of celebs. But what the hell? Where are the new feminists? The feminist movement is gone…seriously??
I know a story like this — where are the young feminists??? — seems to surface every 6 months or so. It’s so frustrating when some feminists lament the demise of the feminist movement and the lack of young feminists. Hello, young feminists are everywhere!!
A couple years ago, the blog Fair and Feminist hosted a “This Is What a Young Feminist Looks Like” blog carnival. Amy Crios, a 20-something feminist blogger started the Feminist Photo Blog Project with the goal to “capture diversity in all its forms among feminists all over the world.” 16 female students at Duke University recently started the Who Needs Feminism? Campaign in order “to fight back against these popular misconceptions surrounding the feminist movement.”
Started by Heather Jarvis and Sonya JF Barnett in Toronto and spreading globally, young feminists rallied for SlutWalk to combat slut-shaming and rape culture. Young feminists continually protest the heinous bombardment of anti-choice legislation — the Stupak Amendment, the Pitts Amendment, defunding of Planned Parenthood, Catholic bishops undermining contraception coverage, personhood amendments, mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds prior to obtaining abortions — through “I Stand with Planned Parenthood,” “Walk for Choice” and the recent “Unite Against the War on Women” rally (btw, love the sentiment, hate the title).
Young feminists volunteer as clinic escorts at abortion clinics, doulas and rape crisis counselors. They volunteer on political campaigns and participate in political training programs. They lobby for pro-choice legislation, raise money for abortion funds and answer domestic violence hotline calls.
Young feminists attend workshops like Soapbox Feminist Bootcamp (which is AMAZEballs!) and conferences like CLPP’s Abortion Rights to Social Justice (phenomenal!!) and Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Young Feminist Leadership Conference. National Organization for Women (NOW) New York State started a Young Feminist Task Force “to help bring young women and men into feminist activism.”
And you’re never too young to begin activism. Confronting photoshopping and the perpetuation of toxic body images, 14-year-old Julia Bluhm petitioned Seventeen Magazine to print “one unaltered photo spread a month.” (Damn, Bluhm makes me feel like a slacker!) The overwhelming support of her petition led to a meeting between Bluhm, Spark Summit (the fab org that combats the sexualization of girls) and Seventeen. Julie Zeilinger (who just wrote the book A Little F’ed Up) started the teen feminist blog The F-Bomb when she was a sophomore in high school. Tavi Gevinson, founder/editor of the site for teen girls Rookie Mag and blogger at The Style Rookie, is not only the youngest fashion guru but an outspoken feminist.
Feministing, the feminist blog nexus co-founded by badass feminist sisters Jessica Valenti and Vanessa Valenti, has always been a platform for young feminists. Additionally, they started Feministing’s Community Blog, “a platform for feminist and pro-feminist writing” open to anyone, and Feministing Campus “is devoted to facilitating and fostering feminist activity on and among college campuses.” The amazing activist Steph Herold started the reproductive justice blog Abortion Gang in response to all the naysayers bemoaning the lack of young feminists.
In addition to classics Ms.Magazine, Bust and Bitch Magazine, numerous feminist blogs (and blogs with a feminist lens) — Fem2pt0, Shakesville, Crunk Feminist Collective, Jezebel, Racialicious, Stuff Queer People Need to Know, RH Reality Check, Scarleteen, Adios Barbie, I Will Not Diet, The F-Word, Her Film, Feministe, What Tami Said, Pandagon, Tiger Beatdown, Women and Hollywood, The Funny Feminist, Women’s Media Center, and of course (ahem) The Opinioness of the World and Bitch Flicks — spark dialogue.
I could seriously keep going and going. See a theme here? Young feminists are taking to the streets to protest and to the internet to voice their dissent and outrage, to organize and connect with other feminists, and to get inspired to create change.
So what the hell is the problem? Why are some feminists oblivious to all the young feminists kicking ass and taking names? Is it that they don’t know where to look? Or is it that they’re expecting a young feminist to emerge as a media lightning rod and celeb symbol for feminists the way Steinem was in the 60s and 70s? Maybe they’re not looking hard enough. Or perhaps they dismiss online activism (which I suspect is a huge part of the problem).
Of course some young people don’t see sexism and misogyny in the media or realize women (particularly women of color) still don’t earn equal pay, the frailty of reproductive rights in our legal system, and the detriments of slut-shaming. But there are so many young people, who proudly declare themselves feminists, fighting back against the tyranny of kyriarchy by volunteering, organizing, fundraising, protesting, petitioning and blogging.
Where are the new feminists? Right here. And we’ve been here all along.