First off, if you live in San Diego, you should get yourself to this benefit concert this weekend!
It seemed like I'd barely set foot on the ground in San Diego when I found myself boarding the train this afternoon for Los Angeles. Thanks so much to Diana and Travis for putting me up, transporting me, and feeding me (best. vegan. enchiladas. ever!).
And thanks to DJ Kuttin Kandi and the folks at the UCSD Women's Center for welcoming me so warmly yesterday. And more thanks to Kandi and Emelyn dela Pena and the rest of Gabriella Network San Diego for co-organizing the Feminism In/Action discussion last night (and thanks to Pat and Maggie for hosting!). And thanks to everyone who came out and shared and listened.
The energy of last night's discussion was powerful. Sharing space with people who identify as black feminists, as humanists, as womanists, as socialist feminists, as anarcha-feminists, as anti-feminists (meaning opposed to the mainstream, liberal conception of feminism), as anti-Imperialist feminists, as simply "feminists," or as unsure or feeling like they didn't know enough was... well, totally inspiring. It was inspiring to see people from different life experiences come together and work to create a space for honest dialogue about power and privilege. Inspiring to see people who are new to the ideals of feminism/social justice take risks and ask questions, and inspiring to see people who've been wrestling with these ideals for some time share their thoughts and struggles. Inspiring to be part of a discussion that examined both the power of the language of self-identity and the suffocation and boxing in it can lead to.
I've had the privilege now of visiting 12 different communities to hear people's perceptions on contemporary feminisms (and I hope to be visiting a lot more). While each discussion has varied in focus, there's been widespread agreement that we shouldn't be seeking to form a singular definition of feminism. I agree wholeheartedly. Leaving room for diversity of perspective and experience is what helps us learn from each other, grow, and infuse our political sensibilities with love and compassion. But at the same time, I worry that without some set of core values -- or guiding principles -- or goals -- there won't be systemic movement, deep social change.
What do you all think? What's your definition of feminism? Do you think a set of core values or goals is necessary? Or possible? And if so, how do we create them?