I’ve been reading a book called Girldrive: Criss-Crossing America, Redefining Feminism by Nona Willis Aronowitz and the late Emma Bee Bernstein. In the book, Nona and Emma, two young feminists, recount their recent cross-country road trip. The goal of their trip was to meet with more than a hundred women—most of them young women—in order find out what women think about feminism. The book is a beautiful and thought-provoking narrative collage of interviews and photos, interwoven with pieces of feminist history and thoughts from the road. The book’s innovative format—it reads like a magazine, or like a blog really—makes it easily accessible and fun to read in both short bursts and for long periods of time. To me, the book makes feminism come alive: every interviewee has her own take on feminism, which demonstrates both the flexibility and the vivacity of the concept and movement.
Unfortunately, while Girldrive’s mission is to engage young women in conversations about feminism, Emma and Nona rarely interview people who I consider “young women”—that is, preteens and teenagers. Instead, Nona and Emma almost exclusively interview women in their 20s and 30s. Where are the voices, opinions, and musings of teenage activists? I don’t think that the omission was out of spite—I’m sure it’s logistically a million times harder to reach teenagers than adults. Still, only two 16 year olds were given full profiles in the book, and when Nona and Emma visit a summer camp, they condescendingly muse upon teenagers’ lack of feminist consciousness. Coming from a pair of women who strive to convey the wide variety of contemporary feminisms, this generalization about teenagers was both sadly ironic and really frustrating.
So to all the preteens and teenagers out there, whether or not you’re a feminist, activist, or a leader:
Are you in middle or high school? What are you passionate about? What do you think about feminism? Do you consider yourself a feminist? If yes, what is like to be a preteen or teenage feminist? If not, why not?
I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.
Image thanks to: http://www.girl-drive.com/app/uploads/2009/08/girldrive-cover.jpg