Friday, May 07, 2004

I'm a little slow in some of my reading, but In These Times has a great article by Dorothy Allison, "Notes to a Young Feminist"

A few years ago there was a conference in Minneapolis on “Feminism and Rhetoric.” I went as a doctrinaire, whiny feminist. The focus of my rant was directed at younger feminist theorists who were using an arcane language that I found an obstruction to my understanding. I thought not only was it arcane, it was an act of cowardice because they were talking in such high falutin’ language no one knew what the fuck they were saying!
I have felt the same way. What good is theory of any kind when nobody but the small group of people creating it understand it?
What I don’t hear at conferences is what did in fact bring me to feminism. So let’s go back, let’s begin: Rubyfruit Jungle, Riverfinger Women, Meridian, Wise Blood, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, True Story of a Drunken Mother, Snapshots of a Daughter-in-law, The Girl, The Salt Eaters, A Woman Is Talking to Death, Edward the Dyke, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen, The Bell Jar, Big Blonde and authors like Judy Grahn, Elana Dykewomon, Alice Walker, Adrienne Rich, Carson McCullers, Audre Lorde, Lillian Hellman and Joann Ross.
I have read most, but not all, of these. And I want to know why more books like these aren't being written?
Last week, because the river rose and we got cut off, we all watched TV. And it made me think, what the fuck is it gonna look like when they make the movie of our life? Let me be clear about what I envision as the future of feminism. When they come around to make the movie of your life, when someone comes around to write the biography of you, as that feminist icon or that revolutionary, world-changing activist you are about to become, for God’s sake, make it more than anything small or pretty or over-romanticized. Make it as revolutionary as this tradition in which we speak has been. Make it so dangerous that people will be scared and unnerved when they read it. Take risks. Make illegitimate children. Get lots of lovers. Try some stuff! Make some difference. Without that courage, without that outside agitation, there will be no future of feminism. There will be no change in this country. Oh, and along the way, read some novels.
Yeah, don't forget to read some novels.