Lately I've been thinking a lot about how to make a difference with my writing, specifically with the writing I do online through my blogs and web-based publications as this is the best way to have meaningful interactions with your readers.
Sometimes I get discouraged, thinking my words are just whispers in a din of voices that are louder and wiser than mine. But then blogs like Who Needs Feminism? launch and my fervor is rekindled.
Who Needs Feminism is a Tumblr launched last month by a group of 16 undergraduate students at Duke University. They started the site as a final project for a seminar course called Women in the Public Sphere, but in just a month the site has garnered attention from sites like Mashable and boasts nearly 11,000 likes on its Facebook page.
The Tumblr features posters and statements from people explaining why feminism is important. As Mashable reports, "Statements range from the personal to the global, including 'I need feminism because it’s 2012 and only 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women,' and 'I need feminism because I want to be respected, regardless of what I’m wearing.'"
Part of the website's mission is to not only spark a conversation about gender equality but also to combat the negative perceptions of feminists that are so prevalent in our society even in 2012. From the site:
Identify yourself as a feminist today and many people will immediately assume you are man-hating, bra-burning, whiny liberal. Perhaps a certain charming radio talk show host will label you as a “Feminazi” or “slut.” Even among more moderate crowds, feminism is still seen as too radical, too uncomfortable, or simply unnecessary. Feminism is both misunderstood and denigrated regularly right here on Duke’s campus. We, the 16 women of Professor Rachel Seidman’s course on Women in the Public Sphere, have decided to fight back against these popular misconceptions surrounding the feminist movement. Our class was disturbed by what we perceive to be an overwhelmingly widespread belief among students that today’s society no longer needs feminism. In order to change this perception on campus, we have launched a PR campaign for feminism. We aim to challenge existing stereotypes surrounding feminists and assert the importance of feminism today.
I find the Who Needs Feminism? Tumblr encouraging for a number of reasons. First, I'm glad that this was started by college students because it has been my experience that many young women and girls believe feminism is no longer necessary, that we as women have "arrived" and the struggle is over.
Secondly, I like that this site features such a wide variety of young voices as it reminds me to not simply focus on what feminism means to me but to also consider how sexism affects other women (and men) too, because it can affect us all differently depending on factors such as race, sexual orientation, class, disabilities, religion, etc.
But lastly, this project encourages me as a writer and blogger. There is a slew of feminist blogs out there yet this one still managed to stand out and, more important, it sparked conversations and inspired people.