In the Blog

What it means to be a woman in America

November 9th, 2007     by Wesley Fok     Comments

Two women drive across the country looking for stories. It’s a pretty typical road trip—except these women have a mission. Nona Willis-Aronowitz and Emma Bernstein are criss-crossing the United States in order to interview people about feminism, what it means to them and how it fits into their lives. And they’re blogging about it with the hopes of turning the whole enterprise into a book upon their return.

Some of the people they’ve already interviewed or hope to talk to are names you might recognize, like Andi Zeisler of Bitch Magazine. But most of the people Emma and Nona interview aren’t celebrities or magazine editors. They’re college students, performance artists, working mothers, aspiring actresses, professors and even porn producers.

One of the issues that keeps coming up in the vignettes is calling yourself a “feminist” in the first place. A lot of the women interviewed shy away from the term, and their reasons are intriguing.

From San Francisco:

Nadiah, 23, grew up in Bowling Green, Ohio with a Libyan dad and a Mexican mom. She works as a paralegal during the day but wants to do art, and recently had her photography shown at a gallery. Nadiah tells us what many women have told us recently—that she doesn’t consider herself a feminist because she’s not familiar enough with the concepts. “I grew up thinking about issues of race, not gender,” Nadiah says, although she acknowledges that she is engaged in some of the issues that come with it.

From Tucson:

Liz is from a progressive family, and was raised Unitarian. “I saw gay couples at church, so was aware from a young age of alternative lifestyles.” She first experienced sexism in the activist groups and hardcore punk circles of Ohio. “I knew there was something wrong with all these boys ruling the mosh pit and the political arguments. I knew this “something” needed a name, and that was feminism.”

From Portland, Oregon:

The next morning, we met with Eileen (right), another woman we only know the name and number of. Eileen is from Connecticut, outdoorsy, and does not consider herself a feminist because she doesn’t like labels–“people get scared away by them.” She is aware that “we live in a patriarchy” but doesn’t identify with the term “if it has a connotation of being superior to men.”

And from San Diego:

Becky is 20, originally from Chicago and La Verne, CA, and is in the midst of applying to law school to be involved in reproduction law and maybe become a lobbyist. She sees the problem of feminism’s bad rep as directly correlated to education: “People should be educated on a high school level on what it means to be a feminist. What you don’t know about doesn’t exist, unless you think and talk about it, exactly what we’re doing now.”

Emma and Nona are still on tour and talking to people across the country until mid-December. (via Metafilter)

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