Brave new feminists


The new issue of Utne Reader just came out and features their list of 50 visionaries who are changing the world. I was thrilled to see that among the incredible list of social change organizers, artists, and thinkers are Jessica Hoffmann and brownfemipower, two people who've been pushing hard against mainstream conceptions of feminism: 

These two women, whose writings consistently challenge the aims and issues of feminism, are the addled movement's best hope. Their personal-and-political essays light up the blogosphere, forcing discussions about why issues that aren't typically considered "feminist"—immigration, incarceration, police brutality—ought to be. For this they are often (sometimes nastily) criticized, but for those who haven't lost hope in the social-justice promise of feminism, their work is transformational.

"What is your feminism for, and why does it matter?" At a time when feminism carries more connotation than meaning, few are willing to engage in this dialogue. It's a question Jessica Hoffmann put forth in "An Open Letter to White Feminists," published in the third issue of Make/shift, a magazine that she cofounded last year. The "feminisms" espoused in Make/shift are radical and varied, eagerly taking up the critiques of capitalism, environmental racism, health care, and war that are considered out of bounds for mainstream feminism.

Brownfemipower, whose inimitable blog is the anchor of the pulsing women-of-color blogosphere, began posting three years ago. She writes emotionally and radiantly about gender violence, immigration raids, public housing demolition in New Orleans, sexuality (a recent post on this topic included a video of Aerosmith's "Crying"), and other "out of bounds" issues, morphing feminism back into a force for social change—for everyone—rather than an "exclusive networking club."

"Feminists can't seem to figure out why their movement isn't growing," she wrote in June. "Could the fact that feminism uses universities as its major site of recruitment rather than jails, halfway houses, day care centers, churches, restaurants, the streets, mommy blog communities . . . have something to do with it?"

Congratulations to Jessica and bfp, and everyone on the list.  Even the Allied Media Conference gets a shout out! 

by Debbie Rasmussen
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