I guess I picked an auspicious time to make my guest appearance, since right now ‘women’s issues’—which, as Golis and others point out, are also men’s issues—are hot on campus. Harvard Right To Life has launched an extensive postering campaign with fliers reading: “If it’s not a baby, you’re not pregnant.” Last weekend’s Conservative Women’s Conference drew a decent crowd (I attended the final seminar and learned a thing or two!). Dreams of a Women’s Center (or nightmares, according to some) appear to be materializing at long last. And tonight promises to be a fantastic women’s-issue bonanza, as both world-famous gender theorist Judith Butler and our own beloved fountain of wisdom Harvey Mansfield are speaking to separate audiences about women, gender, and feminism (Butler at 6:05 in the Holyoke Center and Mansfield at 7:00 in Sever 113). The combo is almost too good to be true.
Given last year’s Summers scandal and the subsequent formation of the Women and Minorities Task Force, an increase in feminist and gender-focused dialogue is unsurprising and highly appropriate. Happily, Cambridge Common has done an admirable job so far of contributing to the dialogue and tackling feminist issues. In fact, even independently of its progressive leanings, this forum is a feminist-friendly site. Not just because all the current regular writers identify as feminist in some sense (Golis remains quasi-closeted as a feminist, but there’s hope for him yet: at least he’s joined The F-word’s facebook group), but because of the very nature and purpose of the blog itself. (more in expanded post)
For me, the opportunity to expose and discuss underlying assumptions, value structures and frames in newsmaking, education, politics, and social life is one of the most encouraging properties of Cambridge Common. It represents a cornerstone of contemporary feminist analysis: forgoing pretensions of unearthing and disseminating ‘the’ truth in favor of critically examining multiple, contingent truths. Feminism uses gender as a helpful starting point or lens in these critical analyses—since Cambridge Common only sometimes approaches topics from a gender angle, I would characterize it as feminist-friendly, rather than outright feminist.
If you’ve managed to make it this far in my classically longwinded feminist introduction, bless your patient heart. Since definitions of feminism practically outnumber feminists these days, chances are you may not agree with my characterization of Cambridge Common as feminist-friendly; or, if you do, your reasons might differ from mine. Maybe you’ve been waiting for the chance to unleash a scathing critique of feminism as you see it. Maybe you, like many of us, are still a little unclear on what exactly feminism is. Maybe you wonder whether the term is too politically loaded or anachronistic to be useful these days. Comment away! And for those of you who would rather zoom in from the big-picture view to discuss feminist issues with greater specificity, I can’t think of better fodder than Butler’s and Mansfield’s presentations tonight (again, 6:05 in the Holyoke Center and 7:00 in Sever 113, respectively). Hope to see you there! Especially you, anonymous(es). :)