There were three really amazing talks in the second session of TEDWomen
this evening. (Highlights from session 1 are here
.) Here's a quick summary:
Courtney E. Martin, the 30-year old co-editor of Feministing.com, gave an engaging and deeply moving talk at Session 2 of TEDWomen today about how her generation is re-imagining feminism. She explained it as three paradoxes:
1. Reclaiming the past and promptly forgetting it.
Martin, the daughter of liberals, grew up denying that she was a feminist until she saw Manifesta co-author Jennifer Baumgardner in fishnet stockings. Part of the challenge of feminism, she says, is to acknowledge that aesthetics, beauty, and fun do matter. "My feminism is very indebted to my mom's, but it's very different. [She] says patriarchy, I say intersectionality... she says protest march, I say online organizing... Feminist blogging is the 21st century version of consciousness raising." Feminism is no longer about man-hating and Birkenstocks.
2. Sobering up about our smallness and maintaining faith in our greatness.
Shortly after graduating from Barnard College in 2002, Martin became disillusioned by the lack of impact she felt she was having even though she worked at a non-profit and took part in volunteer protests. When she sat down to tell her family about it, her mom said to her: I won't stand for your desperation. Even if what you're doing feels small, you still have to have faith in the grandeur of it all.
3. Aiming to succeed wildly and being fulfilled by failing really well.
Martin quoted Parker Palmer, who said:
We are whiplashed between an arrogant overestimation of ourselves and a servile underestimation of ourselves.
After she picked herself up from her disillusion, Martin realized that life is not about glory or security; instead, you have to embrace the paradoxes, act in the face of overwhelm, and learn to love really well.
Read the rest