Archive for June, 2011

“I am the Third Wave”

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

At times this past week, both the Third Wave conference room and I looked like a mess. I have to admit, with such a variety and volume of physical documents to sort through, I found myself feeling a little bit overwhelmed at some points. However, when I was able to actually read, absorb, and appreciate some of the fantastic historical documents I had in front of me, I found moments of peace as I worked through my piles of archives.

I loved reading through the original articles I found that ranged in topic, from “do-me” feminists (a term that was definitely new to me) to interviews with people who I’m starting to feel very familiar with, even though I’ve never actually met them. Some of the same faces appear as participants in ROAMS (Third Wave’s initiative to connect young feminist leaders to grassroots organizations across the US), attendees of Third Wave’s 10th anniversary benefit, or participants in a Third Wave grant recipient convening. To me, all of this simply underscores how passionate and engaged the Third Wave community is.

One of my favorite archives that I stopped to take a deeper look at is Rebecca Walker’s essay, “Becoming the Third Wave.” I mostly knew of Walker as one of Third Wave’s founders, so reading her piece in Ms. Magazine added a new dimension to my knowledge of this integral figure in Third Wave’s history. While I was familiar with the essay’s closing words, “I am not a postfeminism feminist. I am the Third Wave,” reading the essay in its entirety was even more powerful than I had expected. Walker shows the reader how her reactions to the Clarence Thomas hearings and her everyday experiences with sexism inspired her to take her feminism a step further and “integrate an ideology of equality and female empowerment into the very fiber of [her] life.”

A line from the essay that especially stood out to me is the message Rebecca gained from the Clarence Thomas hearings, that “Women were admonished to keep their experiences to themselves.” Even though I’d like to think that the women’s movement has made a lot of progress, even since the 1990’s, this quotation reminds me of the many ways we are all still silenced — whether it’s fearing to speak up about being sexually assaulted, experiencing stigma for having an abortion, or simply fearing judgment for identifying as a feminist. However, after thinking about the “What it Really Takes” infographic that Third Wave recently produced and how so many people were inspired by it to tell their stories relating to obtaining abortions, I’ve come to believe in the importance of remembering that our experiences are not just our own and we can find solidarity in each other so that we can slowly overcome the pressure to be silent about vital issues in our lives.

The Past in the Present: Delving Into Third Wave’s Archives

Friday, June 17th, 2011

I cannot believe that my first week-and-a-half at Third Wave has gone by so fast! So, I’m really glad to have this moment to catch up with myself — and with all of you — to reflect on my experiences so far interning at Third Wave and starting to work on archiving Third Wave’s historical documents. If the archiving process is new to you, join the club! While I’ve studied archives for a paper I wrote last year, I was completely naive about what it meant to choose and save archival material until this week.

However, before I explain what this archive project will be like, I should start by telling you all a little bit about myself. My name is Lillie and I am going to be a senior at Duke University next year. I love trying new restaurants, African dance, running, and spending time with my family. I’m interning at Third Wave this summer through an awesome program at Duke called The Moxie Project. The Moxie Project is a year-long program that combines classes in women’s history and social justice with a summer internship at a feminist organization in New York. I feel so lucky to be at Third Wave for my internship, because I’ve already met so many cool people that I am excited to work with over the summer!

My big project for the summer is to collect, prepare, and transfer all of Third Wave’s historical documents to join the archive collections at Duke’s Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture. The Sallie Bingham Center is an amazing resource at Duke — it houses archive collections with topics that range from Southern women, to women artists, to feminist theory and activism.

While this project has only just begun, I’ve already had the opportunity to look at lots of photos from Third Wave’s ROAMS program (2000-2003) and other parties and events that Third Wave hosted in the 90’s. I’ve also loved learning about Third Wave’s history by reading through old newsletters that detail past campaigns and grantmaking initiatives. When speaking with Third Wave’s Acting Executive Director Tara Ellison about Third Wave’s history, she thoughtfully said that, while Third Wave’s strategies for social justice have developed and grown over time, its goal of being an organization that is by and for young women and transgender youth has remained constant. Even though I have only been here for a little over a week, I can already see this goal emerge both in newsletters and program materials from the past, and staff meetings and strategic planning conversations in the present. I look forward to learning more about this amazing organization and supporting it through this archive project!