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Feminist Links

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Since the web is so rich in feminist resources (as well as anti-feminist ones), I thought this would be a good time to introduce you to them. This list is written such that beginners can get their feet wet through the One-Stop Online Feminist Resources section while the seasoned can delve into some Food For Thought. I hope everyone will take the time to go through all the linked articles on this list, especially when space considerations kept me from covering more complex issues (i.e., religion and feminism) in Those Martian Women! Enjoy!


Online One-Stop Feminist Resources

How does a person keep up with ever-changing world of activism? The first step is to read. The second step is to network. And the third step is to work with others on an issue that strikes your passion.

On the Issues and Feminista! are stylish, award-winning zines which will help you with step one. Put them in your bookmarks. If only the mass media had the quality of articles offered by these two excellent zines. It goes without saying that the more you understand patriarchy, the more you will be able to effect change. One of the best ways to start getting that knowledge is to read Allan Johnson's The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy, a book which is going to be around for a long, long time.

To get started on step two, subscribe to some listservs. Joan Korenman, professor of English and Women's Studies at the University of Maryland, has two award-winning lists: Gender-Related Electonic Forums and Women's Studies/Women's Issues Resource Sites. However, the discussion groups listed vary quite dramatically in their commitments to feminism. If you want to get a better understanding of contemporary secular feminist thought, take the plunge and join WMST-L, The Women's Studies Listserv.

To get moving on step three, click on Feminist.com, a huge award-winning grab bag of basic feminist resources. Look over its list of issues, click on the item that grabs you, and run with it. It you want more grab bags, go to Sunshine For Women, one of the newsiest personal sites on the web.

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Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan

Roughly two years before the terrorist attacks on America, I wrote these words:

Under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, women are in a condition of complete political, psychological, economic and sexual servitude to the patriarchy. Several observers say their condition is comparable to the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto before the Nazis sent them off to the concentration camps. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, President Clinton, the United Nations, the global feminist community and the Muslim Women's League have spoken out, but much more needs to be done. These links will give you the resources to "think globally and act locally". By all means, make financial contributions, write your representative, publicly pray for an end to the Taliban, buy crafts from Afghan refugees. . . the list is endless. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," said Martin Luther King. Don't stand for one of the greatest human rights abuses of the later part of the twentieth century.
Yes, the world is finally paying attention to gender apartheid in Afghanistan, but the fight is far from over. All women and men of good will must make sure women's rights are completely restored:
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Other Feminist Critiques
of Mars&Venus

Susan Hamson and I are not the only feminists taking on John Gray over the web. Many Jupiterian women and men have looked out of their telescopes and taken notes. While you're reading their articles, try to see what types of feminism they use to break the code. Enjoy!
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Feminists Who Challenged Clinton

I don't want to dwell on this one. Still, I want you to know that several American feminists did not join the "Stay By Your Man" chorus during the Clinton sex scandals. It's about time we gave them credit. This is a small portion of the articles the media conveniently forgot to catch.
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Food for Thought

This is a sampler of the web articles which plumb the depths of feminist issues. If only we could get them in the mainstream media. But at least, we have the internet. Enjoy!
  1. Gone, But Not Forgotten! The Promise Keepers may be dead, but their impact on patriarchy will be with us for a long, long time. John Stoltenberg's Male Virgins, Blood Covenants, and Family Values is one of the best articles on the subject.

  2. Battle for the Minds. David Lipscomb's gripping documentary about a progressive Southern Baptist Seminary which fell to fundamentalists has become a surprise hit at secular film festivals and women's studies conferences. It has a "same song, different verse" quality which reminds us of our own cultural struggles between a known patriarchal past and an unknown feminist future. "We're in a Battle for the Minds," said an exasperated professor.

  3. Take a Trip to Herland, and then, go With Her to Ourland. Three American men on the eve of WWI stumble onto a 2000 year old all-female society. The women challenge all of their stereotypes and yes, romance happens. One of the men marries a Herlander. They take a voyage to "the real world". But what happens to their union? Will she go back to Herland? Will he join her? Will they succomb to Hisland (aka: the "real" world)? Or will they courageously join forces to create Ourland?

    Charlotte Perkins Gilman's classic 1915-1920 adventures haven't lost one ounce of their bite. There's something for everybody. With Her to Ourland is a window on life towards the end of the twentieth century. The adventure continues!

  4. Hooked On Bell. Shambhala Sun has a feast of insightful articles by the famous womanist, bell hooks. Also, check out a reprint of her marvelous Z Magazine piece, Misogyny, Gangsta Rap, and The Piano. Finally, someone admitted The Piano is a sexist, racist, and classist film!

  5. Men Speak Out! As Edmund Burke said, "The best way to insure the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." The good news is that some men are doing something. May their numbers increase. Check out their work in The Men Against Violence Webring.

  6. Is Science Really Objective About Gender? Distinguished biologists Ruth Hubbard and Anne Fausto-Sterling have a lot to say about this one. If only we could get these real Ph.D.'s into a room with "Dr" Gray!

  7. Feminism's French Connection. Christine de Pizan during the Renaissance, Olympe de Gouges during the French Revolution, George Sand in the 1840's, and Simone de Beauvoir after WWII--French theorists have always provided the sheer force of intellect and je ne sais qoi that pushed society closer to the root of gender problems.

    However, the impact of these intellectuals may be a light affair compared to the fireworks generated by postmodern theorists like Luce Irigaray, Helene Cixous, Julia Kristeva and Rosa Braidotti. Feminist responses to them are all over the map. What do you think? Check out Karla Tonella's French Feminist Theory website and take a wild ride into our brave new poststructuralist world.

  8. Let Her Speak! "She is a woman who moves us, a voice we cannot ignore, a writer we need. And I dare you to try," intones Canadian historian and civil libertarian Graham Broad. Activist Nikki Craft has developed The Andrea Dworkin Library, an excellent introduction to perhaps the most controversial feminist in the world. It's a fine example of how the internet can correct mass media slander. By all means, read The Lie Detecter and her interview with novelist Michael Moorcock, which convincingly claim one more time that Dworkin NEVER said, "All sex is rape". Also, don't miss out on Graham Broad's review and "dialogue" with a man who "critiqued" Dworkin's work without reading it, much less understanding it.

    I'm not exaggerating when I say that John Gray gets much of the credit--or blame--for compelling me to rethink my position on the feminist people love to hate. Before Gray, I was moderately anti-Dworkin. After Gray, I realize how much the world needs feminists like her. One does not have to agree with all of Dworkin's ideas to realize that she is a splendid writer, a prophetic theorist, a voice we all need to hear. I dare you to try.

  9. The First or the Fourteenth? American feminists who have strong opinions on the contentious pornography debates will often say, "I'm a First Amendment person" or "I'm a Fourteenth Amendment person". Supposedly, one sides with either "free speech" or "equal protection of the law". On an Alachua Freenet forum, an unidentified commentator uses Catherine MacKinnon's work to highlight the tension between the two principles. Pornography: Is It "Only Words"? is by far one of the more thoughtful web commentaries on another feminist the public loves to hate (by the way, Kitty NEVER said, "All sex is rape"). Without taking "sides", the author indirectly challenges us to aspire to a deeper understanding of both free speech and equal protection of the law. Too bad this person remained anonymous.

  10. Mary, Mary!. This most Celtic of feminists is back in the news again. New York Times journalist Anne Powers has done a fine job of capturing the latest Daly debacle within contemporary cultural currents. Mary, Quite Contrary is one of the more even-handed mass media treatments of the sui generis radical elemental feminist. A pleasant but puzzling surprise. Perhaps The Feminist Coalition on Public Broadcasting, an new American media watch group, is starting to make a dent. One can only hope . . .


Religion and Feminism

"God and one woman make a majority", declared Josephine Butler in the 19th century. "No gods, no masters", retorted Margaret Sanger in the 20th. The debate continues into the millenium . . .

While activists are finding new ways to "do religion", the world's places of worship shamelessly take advantage of the Mars&Venus mania. The Iranian theocracy is not terribly eager to censor John Gray. Many American Christians and Jews act like Mars&Venus is manna from heaven, conveniently forgetting that Gray's work exmplifies the "I-It" mirror of relationships, not the "I-Thou" ideal. Is all lost? A letter from a Lutheran pastor gives me hope. After he read the Mars&Venus critiques on the web, he kicked the habit of using examples from John Gray's books in his sermons and Sunday School classes. "And the truth shall make you free . . ."

This issue is very near and dear to my heart. Here is a sampler of the feminisms within the world's major religions, along with attempts to invent new spiritualities:

  • No Gods, No Masters! Female athiests and agnostics have been largely ignored. But the truth is that many were feminist movers and shakers. Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation has some interesting information on these women and is dedicated to advancing the feminist case against religion.

  • God and One Woman . . . Many feminists do not think religion is inherently oppressive to women. Carol Bass' moving Breaking Holy Ground shows how a Catholic nun, an Orthodox Jew, a Conservative Jew, a Buddhist priest and a Zen Buddhist lama work for change in their Connecticut congregations. Feminist theologian Letty Russell of Yale Divinity School provides thoughtful commentary.

    Feminism has had a surprisingly strong impact on evangelical Christians and Orthodox Jews.Check out the groundbreaking Men, Women, and Biblical Equality statement and Phyllis Chesler's Wailing at the Wall.

  • Not Quite Submitting to his "Servant Leadership." The Southern Baptists are at it again. But the mavericks are not taking their latest patriarchal shenanigans sitting down. New Testament scholar Judith Gundry-Volf grapples with the complexities of scripture and culture in Neither Biblical Nor Just: Southern Baptists and the Subordination of Women. Louisiana-born theologian Jann Aldridge-Clanton joins a growing number of progressives who eschew the "southern" label, as "The Southern Baptist Convention is more Southern than Baptist and more Baptist than Christian". Meanwhile, Gracious Submission, a satirical treatment of the hymn, Blessed Assurrance, pokes marvelous fun at the whole charade.

  • Ordination Is Not Enough. Gender justice is much more than an "add women and stir" process. Hence the need for a feminist reworking of Jewish and Christian theologies, especially when they still refuse to call God "Our Mother" . Needless to say, they're controversial, even in their more conservative forms. Rebecca Unsoeld's Hulda: Feminist Theology site contains a fairly comprehensive list of web resources. Mary Daly's provocative 1971 After the Death of God Our Father is one of the foundational works on feminist theology.

  • Back in Utah . . . Can Mormonism ever affirm women? Jessica Longaker says no. Maxine Hanks says yes. Meanwhile, Tapestry Against Polygamy, which won the "Women of Courage" award from NOW, helps women and their children leave polygamous marriages and bring the husbands to justice.

  • Complexities of Islam. Westerners have a lot to learn about the depth, breadth, and diversity of this faith community, especially as it concerns women. Fortunately, the web provides some good helping hands. Avaye Zan - Iranian Women's Voice intervews an anonymous activist inside Iran. The Muslim Women's League, an American organization, works to dispel bigotry both inside and outside Islam. And Middle Eastern scholar Elizabeth Warnock Ferrea takes us on her fascinating journey In Search of Islamic Feminism.

  • Opening the Lotus. Buddhism is attracting a growing number of American feminists, as bell hooks now belongs to this faith tradition. Sandy Boucher's Opening the Lotus guides them through the process. However, they all know the struggle over a patriarchal legacy has not ended, as shown by this article on Higher Ordination for Buddhist Nuns in Sri Lanka.

  • Tantra: Feminizing Divinity. Feminism has not left Hinduism untouched, as shown by Shikha Malaviya's fascinating interview of tantra scholar Dr. Madhu Khanna.

  • Towards a Feminist Spirituality. A diverse topic, to say the least. Under Shekhinah's Wings promotes the feminist transformation of all religions, which certainly includes recognition of the female divine. Melissa Wilcox profiles the controversial Z. Budapest in Uppity Religion: Z. Budapest and Dianic Witchcraft. Goddesses and the Divine Feminine Book List gives a tour of all the major works on female divinity around the world. But Jewish feminist Judith Antonelli issues a cautionary tale in Beyond Nostalgia: Rethinking the Goddess.
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Global Feminism

I will not hide my excitement about this one. The coming together of the world's feminist/womanist movements is one of the greatest achievements of the millenium. Friends who've attended the United Nations conferences say it was one of the great highlights of their lives. Needless to say, global feminism has produced global backlash. Need I detail how you-know-who is playing such a major role in it! Professor Annie Potts of the University of Auckland notes that Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus is one of the top best-sellers in New Zealand. However, Potts' decision to critique Mars and Venus in the Bedoom, and do it so brilliantly, gives me hope that global feminism is here to stay.

To say global feminism is exciting is not to deny the wrenching challenges of promoting gender justice on such a wide scale. Global feminism is not American feminism in a kimono, for it focuses not only on garden variety sexism, classism, and racism, but on the oppressive results of colonial and nationalist policies, on how Big Government and Big Business divide the Earth into the "First World" and the "Third World". For this reason, global feminism is also known as post-colonial feminism. It is just as oppressive to view "the universal woman" as a "liberated" white, middle class American as to view "the universal human" as a white, middle class American male.

One of the biggest challenges for post-colonial feminism is "the one and the many", the age-old choice between ethical absolutism and ethical relativism. Another hurdle is, "How do we unite women in, through, and despite their differences?" The answers are still "in process" and they won't be easy. Nevertheless, global activists are not going to let anything keep them from rolling up their sleeves and daring to imagine a world without oppression. Heed their words:

  • Something to Cheer About. For all the backlashes and Talibans around the world, there has been significant progress on the principle that "women's rights are human rights and human rights are women's rights". Columnist Katha Pollitt gives us good reasons to keep our chins up in Women's Rights: As the World Turns.

  • Pick a Country. Lots of feminist websites have excellent lists of activist groups around the world. For starters, go to Feminist.Com's Global Women's Resources, The Feminist Majority Foundation's Global Links and Sunshine For Women's Global Feminism.

  • As the Feminist World(s) Turn. After the first flush of sisterhood ends and you discover all those differences, then what? Three multicultural women give us some surprising insights. Eryn Scott reports on conflicts between feminism in Africa and the United States, Fedwa Malti-Douglas deals with those who "accuse" non-Western women of being "Western feminists", and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak dialogues about the effects of crisis-driven global telecommunications on social justice activism.

  • Paying the Price. When an American friend told me she kept silent about sexism because she couldn't bear to have men dislike her, I responded, "Well, getting exiled from the Soviet Union didn't keep Tatyana Valentina Mamonova from speaking out and death threats haven't kept Nawal el Saadawi, Khalida Messaoudi, and Taslima Nasrin hidden behind the veil." Isn't sacrifice the price of justice?

  • What's An American To Do? For starters, read the advice from Gloria Steinem and Winona LaDuke. Urge your representative to ratify CEDAW (Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women). On a deeper level, when you visit another country, support its feminists, check your ethnocentrism and never forget that "the nation that is without sin cast the first stone."
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What Advice Would You Give a New Feminist?

To my surprise, people are asking me for advice on feminist activism. I usually tell them to approach feminist friendships in the same way they approach dating and to view working in feminist organizations in the same way they would view a job interview. In other words, look before you leap. Trust your instincts and check the groups out before you put a lot of time and effort into them. Since feminist organizations work on a shoestring, your patience will get tested from time to time. Also, working as a paid professional carries the same risks as working in most non-profit organizations. Salaries are low and overtime is expected. Like most alliances among social justice activists, feminist friendships can get intense. Just remember that activists don't have to agree on everything to stay together.

Listed below are some web articles which candidly discuss the challenges of feminist work without losing sight of its fun side:

Activism can be a pain in the you-know-what, but it can also be incredibly fulfilling. One benefit of feminist work is the friendships you can develop with movers and shakers. These friendships can last a lifetime, as shown by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon, and hopefully, Susan Hamson and yours truly. Also, there are good examples of women and men working together (i.e., Pepper Schwartz and Phillip Blumstein, Doris Ewing and Steven Schacht) and the little explored phenomenon of married couples doing joint activism (i.e., Harriet Taylor and John Stuart Mill, Nora Jamieson and Allan Johnson, Carol and Jim Gilligan). Good activist experiences are within everyone's reach.

In the meantime, take a few cues from the pioneering Texas attorney Louise Ballerstedt Raggio:

"Each generation faces its own set of challenges. And never act like you have it made. That's what happened after American women won the right to vote."

The marathon continues!

Kathleen Trigiani
November 1999
(Updated December 2001)

Illustration at top: Cover Panel of
An Illustrated Timeline of the Woman Suffrage Movement,
Copyright 1994 National Women's History Project. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with written permission from The National Women's History Project.



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Masculinity-Femininity: Society's Difference Dividend
Crown Him Patriarch
Those Martian Women!
From Gender Vertigo to Gender Peace
Transforming Our Mars&Venus Society

Copyright 2000-2001 Kathleen Trigiani. All rights reserved.