Wanted: Allies for the Feminist Cause

In the 1990s girls were presented with television shows, movies and books in which anything was possible.

I was raised in the age of “Girl Power.” There was never any doubt in my mind: I could do or be whatever I wanted when I grew up and my gender would not stand in the way. With female role models like Sally Ride and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, every door was open.

In high school, I learned the proper name for this belief system: feminist. I never bought into the “dirty word” theory, and still don the title when I need to defend the sisterhood. For me, feminism is a point of pride in myself as a woman. But I have to thank our class discussion on blues women and domestic violence for pushing my thinking further. Is this a struggle women can take on by ourselves? Should we?

As we talked about Donna Ferraro’s exhibition Living with the Enemy, Matt pointed out the biological divisions to which it is easy to revert. Certainly, the nuance of Ferraro’s title implies abusive partners in domestic relationships, but it is not a huge mental jump is to cast half the population literally as “bad guys.” Are we scaring away potential allies by making female issues an all-girls club?

While third-wave feminism has been criticized for a lack of unity in cause, maybe that cause was just hiding in plain view. As the next generation of feminists, we must continue to bring female issues into public view, but with the alliance and support of our male counterparts. We need to collectively move beyond gender as a defining characteristic of struggle. Because after all, aren’t we all in this together?

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