much has been made of jessica valenti (of feministing)'s interview in last week's times magazine - specifically, of her comments about bust. quoth jessica,
Bust used to be a feminist magazine, but now it’s more crafty and about making things out of yarn. I’m not a D.I.Y. feminist. I once tried knitting a scarf but threw it away after 15 minutes.
my reaction to a tired jab at DIY is predictable, but i've been rather surprised by how strongly i respond to what bust's debbie stoller calls "girl-on-girl crime." online discussions of craft movements and what it means to be a modern woman, partner, feminist, and so on are hardly new; hell, i feel late to the party, and i've been blogging since 2001. what does feel new is the squandering of what previous generations of women worked so hard for - that is, that calling ourselves what we like, mothering and working in proportions of our choosing, marrying or partnering and knitting or not knitting are all non-issues. the rights themselves are one thing: what i love is that those options are givens now, and that we can make those choices without drama. like any adolescent, though, the internet loves its drama, and we're re-living the mommy wars, judging the hell out of each others' weddings and partnerships, worrying about what others' craft projects say about us. i've worked at a women's magazine for nearly five years now; my work is a lot of fun, and it's occasionally important. it's also turned me into the sort of person who's bored shitless by invented conflicts and lady issues that, honestly, were resolved before we were born (and i am infinitely grateful for that).

let's spend our time figuring out what to do about the stupak-pitts amendment. i promise, sincerely and from the bottom of my heart, that my handmade halloween costume isn't about you.


Rachel (heart of light) said...

Amen. Do what you want and enjoy doing it, without worrying about what other people are doing. Isn't that what it is all about?

Megan said...

Did you see Valenti's reply on the Bust site? She's claiming - and it seems plausible- that her comments were a victim of editing.

lauren said...

i did, megan, and i'm sympathetic to that, but i think her paraphrase sort of reinforced the original point by conflating bust with craft:

I actually named BUST as one of the feminist publications I like - and later made an offhand comment about not reading it as much because it felt more crafty than anything else to me these days.

she also told meg (via a comment at a practical wedding) that she was "glad [she] liked the quote," which feels a bit like trying to have it both ways.

Anna said...

Wow, I just read through that whole debacle, and it seems pointless. So much contemporary feminist discourse right now seems to be about proving feminism as "cool" and these debates certainly seem to be the result of that. Let's talk about inclusive feminism, not cool girl feminism.

wabes said...

i had the weird experience the other day of trying to talk about my commitment to mentoring women, or helping women "break through barriers" -- and realizing that i had nothing specific to say, though i'm aware of differences of presentation and behavior in the classroom. i haven't thought i needed special mentoring as a woman...and so i just try to help them all do their best, guess? but it made me wonder if i was being naive about gender, work, feminism, or if i've just integrated things so thoroughly into my worldview that i'm a crappy advocate. this seems related, though. do you sometimes feel like our generational definition of feminism just needs a re-tool?

lauren said...

i do, wabes. i don't mean (in saying options are a given) to say that options are perfect - maternity leave is still a mess for a lot of people, we're still paid less than male counterparts in some fields, and so on. frustratingly, our generation seems to spend a lot of its energy on the throwaway stuff ("does she or doesn't she wear bras and lipstick? did she change her name? does she knit ironically?) and to shirk the heavy lifting needed to address the very palpable inequities that still exist. i feel like previous generations gifted us with a snark-free workspace for tackling new issues and we bitched it back up.

this could all be the cold medicine talking, mind you.