A few years ago Nas, one of my favorite rappers, produced an album called Hip Hop Is Dead. It pissed off a lot of genre loyalists, and other artists who took personal offense. The album was a statement on the way that hip hop music had been co-opted by cheap “bling” content, how it lost it’s prophetic cultural voice, sold out to the almight dollar, and it was also an indictment of tacky Southern “crunk” rap.
No one wants to hear bad news.
There’s an article on CNN’S Belief Blog about the death of feminism. I don’t like it. It upsets me – it actually stresses me out – to think about dissolving energies of Third-Wave Feminism. I’ve heard a few women state that the Third-Wave never actually happened – that it’s really nothing more than the dying cries of the Second-Wave.
I don’t think that’s entirely true. There are so many incredible female voices still pushing forward in fresh ways, on new ground. Naomi Wolf and Hillary Clinton are just a few women I deeply admire. But while new ground is still being gained, old ground is rapidly being lost. The attrition is faster than the growth. That’s bad news.
Stephen Prothero writes at CNN’s Belief Blog:
Much has been written about how the right has successfully turned the term liberal into a dirty word. But the other f-word (feminist) has fared even worse, sullied by some combination of the Reagan Revolution, the culture wars, and the success of the feminist movement itself, which has left young women today feeling more empowered and less vulnerable than their more feminist-friendly forebears. When I asked my students why they don’t want to call themselves feminists, they spoke of bra-burners man-haters and Femi-Nazis, which is to say that in the war of the words which was the feminist movement, feminists seem to have lost perhaps the most important battle: the battle over the meaning of the word feminism itself.
This is tragic. And in my experience, very true.
Last week I met a young woman online – a friend of an old friend, who found my blog. Over e-mail, she introduced herself as a “feminist” and I just about got out of my chair and shouted! Because I can’t remember the last time I met a 20-something woman who was so boldly willing to claim that title – even introducing herself as such! A few of the women I know who are feminists sort of hang their heads in a slightly defeated way, sigh, and say, “But I’m not THAT kind of feminist…”
I’m not criticizing them. Culture wars are tough – and much tougher on women and minorities. I spent a lot of time apologizing for being a Christian. Sigh… “But I’m not THAT kind of Christian…” Maybe there’s a lesson there – but it’s one I’m too cynical to address today.
We have to reclaim words like “liberal” and “feminist.” We have to take them out of the gallows, out of the “Hall of Shame” the Right has methodically, aggressively constructed. Burning bras doesn’t threaten me. It doesn’t threaten you. The fear of burning bras, or making any other public statement, threatens ALL of us.
Eventually, we’ll have to reclaim words like “Christian” too. But it isn’t actually true to say that Christianity “isn’t THAT way…” because Christianity is what it puts into practice, and as I’ve said a thousand times here, we’re practicing some bad habits on a very grand scale.
Feminism is what it practices to: a radical philosophy that calls women people.