“A movement has got to move”: on feminism’s future

September 29, 2010

We're still passing around a shared print copy of this month's controversial Harper's cover story, "Feminism's Ritual Matricide," by feminist author and critic Susan Faludi. The full text isn't available online, but a healthy debate over her analysis -- of how feminism divides along mother/daughter lines -- is heating up on the same feminist blogs that, according to Faludi's observation, some second wave feminists' view with "tolerance" and "bewilderment." Miriam Perez at Feministing offers this angle, in "A Movement has got to move," on why all of ways that feminism has only become broader is a sign of victory for those in the women's movement who have come before us, not a signal of our disapproval or resentment as the next generations:

It’s reasonable that we don’t all agree. If we did, it’d be totally fake, and then we’d be the Republican Party. The fact that there is dissent in our movement is a sign of health, and the possibility for growth. The problem is, we don’t know what to do with that dissent. It’s festering, and fracturing the movement, rather than moving us forward. Hence the countless articles about feminism that focus on these divides. I’m tired of talking about the past, about what came before, about the golden days of activism. I want to talk about the now, about the activism that is thriving these days, and how we can make sure that gender is being discussed in every activist space, not just at NOW conferences or in academic feminist classrooms. This is not to dismiss what has come before me, or to not acknowledge that it is the stepping stone of my feminism. I know that, I live that. Now I want to build on that. I’d love to do it in partnership with feminists of all ages, races, sexual orientations, abilities and identities. But if we can’t all agree that today’s feminism needs to look different than yesterday’s, there is no way we’re going to get anywhere. And it’s doesn’t need to look different than yesterday’s feminism because yesterday’s feminism was wrong, or bad, or ineffective. It’s needs to look different because today is different, my life is different, our gender roles are different. That’s a good thing right? It’s proof that we’re getting somewhere. Let’s keep moving.
One thing up front in the essay, which Perez points out as well, is Faludi's choice of focus on the National Organization for Women, academia, and to a lesser extent, the feminist internet, as her sites of critique. What vibrant activism has Faludi overlooked by not digging into the work of grassroots, community-based organizations? We support local, state, and national work towards gender justice, because we believe it is critical to address gender inequity on multiple fronts. But it's worth thinking about, as Faludi raises, why the kinds of feminisms rooted in our daily lives are still perceived to be of marginal consequence when compared to what happens within institutions. Where is the balance, where one drives the other? Related, and more critically, I wish Faludi had directly challenged the ways that the women's movement still struggles with race, class, sexuality, and gender identity. I want to dig more into how these struggles inform the argument that feminists are pitted against one another primarily along generational lines, as Faludi claims. She raises racism and classism and heterosexism as the complaints of the third wave lodged against the second wave, and not, more accurately, as the lived reality of feminists, of every generation.

Posted in: Community, Movement Building

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“I am the Third Wave”

June 22, 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.

Posted in: Blog, Our History

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“If They Can Do It, I Can Do It”: Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition

June 22, 2011

In honor of their graduation, Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition is sharing video interviews with some of their 2011 program graduates. Here's the first five posted -- four young women who have found community and grown as leaders, working together as peer educators and activists.






Posted in: Community, Healthcare, Youth Organizing, YWCHAC

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“last night’s feminist party” was here

November 29, 2010

A little more than a week ago, a crowd of New York City-area activists as well as Third Wave staff, board members from across the country and local grant partners met up for a (friendly) takeover of happy hour at Lolita. There was drinking, some dancing, and posing for party photos! It was an evening full of generous acts of trouble-making to support of youth activists. Thanks to Lolita for providing drink specials for our evening, including a festive feminist cocktail we named "Intersectionality on the Beach." Hot party photo credits to Mary Ellen Hitt. [gallery orderby="rand"] Check out more photos at where you can sign up for notices about the next LNFP and be sure not to miss out on a good time! Here are the LNFP/NYC Facebook album and Flickr set as well.

Posted in: Blog, Community, Feminism Was Here, Movement Building, Philanthropy, Reproductive Justice

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“No Simple Solutions”: Social Justice and the Sex Trade

May 3, 2011

We know that each of our experiences of the sex trades are unique, and there are no one-size fits all solutions. We are members of families and communities struggling to survive and make the best possible choices given the options available to us. For many of us, the truth about the sex trade is somewhere between a completely empowered experience of the sex trade, which requires only decriminalization to eliminate harms, and a completely harmful experience of the sex trade which negatively presumes all of us to be victims in need of “rescue.”
In response to increased media and philanthropic attention on young people in the sex trade, a collective of radical women of color, queer people of color, and Indigenous people who identify as people in the sex trades, affiliated with INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, are working to center the voices of young people in the sex trades in conversations about policy reform that directly impacts their lives. You can read their statement (excerpted above) in full on the INCITE! blog. Over at Feministing, Jos Truit has a powerful post giving some context and background to how social justice movements can meaningfully include young people in the sex trade. Third Wave has also released a statement (in September 2010) on why we prioritize the expertise of young people in the sex trade.

Posted in: Anti-Violence, Criminalization, Youth Organizing

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“Nothing About Us Without Us”: A Sex Worker-Made PSA

August 15, 2010

People who have done sex work or been involved in the sex trades -- and their experiences and their expertise -- are all too often shut out of the places where the quality of their lives and their rights are up for debate. Even among those working for public health, including sexual/reproductive health and rights, sex workers can be regarded as "vulnerable" populations, not leaders in their own health and in the well-being of our communities. Want a tool to share the concerns of sex workers with people who care about health, rights, and justice? Participants in Speak Up!, a video advocacy training conducted by Sex Work Awareness, produced a video to educate harm reduction practitioners and community health care providers about the goals that sex workers share with them. The PSA features Naomi Akers, executive director of Third Wave grant partner St. James Infirmary, the first occupational health and safety clinic in the United States run by and for sex workers. St. James Infirmary has been a leader in opposing the police practice of confiscating condoms as evidence from sex workers. In the video, Naomi asks:

If you are a service provider or health official concerned with disease prevention, we encourage you to work with sex workers to end these police practices.
The Speak Up participants have also created a toolkit for harm reduction practitioners who want to learn how to work with sex workers -- not just as a "target" population, but as critical allies in health and justice.

Posted in: d.i.y., Media, Movement Building

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“Secure Communities” Endangers Women, Immigrants, and People of Color

August 16, 2011

Third Wave lends our support to this statement, released on August 15th, 2011. You can also download (PDF) a version of this statement to share. DHS’ DECISION TO UNILATERALLY MOVE FORWARD WITH SECURE COMMUNITIES PUTS WOMEN IN DANGER Immigrant Rights and Women’s Rights Groups Denounce the Decision Nationwide On August 5th, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would unilaterally terminate all contracts with states and localities in an attempt to further implement the “Secure Communities” program nationwide, despite calls for the agency to suspend the program. Immigrant rights and women’s rights organizations strongly oppose this unilateral decision by DHS, before the local hearings on Secure Communities' effects have even taken place. DHS' announcement demonstrates that the hearings are a farce, and that DHS is determined to implement Secure Communities, regardless of public opposition or its demonstrated impact on survivors of crime. We continue to oppose Secure Communities and any law that encourages ICE to transfer its responsibility to local law enforcement. Secure Communities undermines local law enforcement's commitment to community policing, which puts immigrant women, their families, and their communities in danger. Since its introduction, the “Secure Communities” (abbreviated “S-Comm”) program has been opposed by local and state civic leaders, elected officials, law enforcement agents, religious leaders, and human rights advocates. S-Comm forces local law enforcement agents to act as an arm of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by detaining persons who are arrested, but not charged with a crime, so that they can be processed for deportation. Since implementation began, more than one million people have been deported under S-Comm, the vast majority of whom have no criminal history, despite DHS’ claims that the program targets individuals who are dangers to society. Instead, the program promotes racial profiling, destroys families, and undermines community relations with police that are essential to public safety. Continued ambiguity on the part of DHS regarding S-Comm has led to the Office of the Inspector General to initiate an audit into this controversial program. S-Comm puts survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault at increased risk. It is threatening the progress our country has made in the last three decades to bring violence against women out from behind closed doors by making women afraid to call the police for help, for fear of arrest and deportation if they are undocumented. The program encourages violence against women and destroys the community trust in law enforcement that is necessary for safe neighborhoods for all members of a community, regardless of immigration status. Immigrant women are increasingly breadwinners and often provide more stability for their family. Yet they are criminalized, and sometimes brutalized, for trying to keep families safe and healthy. Immigrant mothers, who are simply working to make ends meet, are bearing the brunt of these anti-immigrant policies. They risk being arrested for walking their kids to school, they must worry about who will provide care for their children if they are suddenly detained or deported, and when families are indeed separated by deportation, the well-documented psychological effects on both parents and children continue to devastate families for years. Immigrant communities and women’s rights advocates are coming together to oppose the deeply problematic “Secure Communities” program. We pledge to speak out during DHS community hearings on S-Comm, and at other local, state and national public events. We urge local and state leaders to join us in declaring S-Comms unsafe for women and children. ASISTA Immigration Assistance Break the Chain Campaign Casa de Esperanza National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum National Day Laborers Organizing Network National Domestic Workers Alliance National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health Opportunity Agenda Rights Working Group STITCH Third Wave Foundation

Posted in: Anti-Violence, Blog, Community, Criminalization, Immigration

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#whatitreallytakes: Reproductive Justice In Action

June 16, 2011

Yesterday we asked the Third Wave community: tell us #whatitreallytakes to get an abortion. Your responses are inspiring, overwhelming and powerful.

  • We hope you'll read, share, and add your own story, using the hashtag #whatitreallytakes.
  • You can also post our report and infographic on abortion access to your blog, or Facebook Wall, or send it to someone who needs it.
  • You can support a network of young feminist activists who are working across the United States to remove these barriers to access and ensure our reproductive freedom for generations to come by making a gift to Third Wave.

Posted in: Actions, Community, Reproductive Justice, What It Really Takes

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2011: A Year of Victories

December 21, 2011

Gender Just marches for gender equity. Part of our feminist, activist work is taking the time to celebrate our successes and share them with one another. In the spirit of the holiday season, we’re looking back at 2011 and all of the amazing accomplishments Third Wave and its grant partners have made this year.   Brown Boi Project – published the BBP Health Guide, Freeing Ourselves: A Guide to Health and Self-Love for Brown Bois, a vital tool for masculine-of-center people of color. Chicago Abortion Fund – succeeded in removing anti-choice billboards that targeted women of color in Chicago. Choice USA – hosted Destination 2012, a grassroots organizing and leadership development conference for young reproductive justice activists. The conference included presentations from Loretta Ross of Sistersong, Gloria Steinem, and Shelby Knox. COLOR (Colorado Organization for Opportunity and Reproductive Justice) – held their sixth annual Latina Health Summit, educating 150 young Latinas and their families about reproductive health and justice. Colorado Anti-Violence Project – is celebrating 25 years of envisioning queer liberation this year; their youth project, Branching Seedz, also co-organized the second Trans & Queer Youth Media Track at the Allied Media Conference this year. Gender Just – created the Fellowship for Gender JUST Youth Leadership and Organizers, which brought four young activists together to creatively engage their communities around gender justice. JASMYN (Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network) – threw their fifth annual Coming Out Day Breakfast, which hosted community members, small business owners, and corporate partners dedicated to LGBTQ youth. Justice Now – premiered the first video in their new series on the history of sterilization in prisons (check it out here). Kalpulli Izkalli – celebrated fifteen years of holistic, natural healing with their fifth annual Anniversary Celebration and Community Healing event. Khmer Girls in Action – launched their new Youth at the C.O.R.E. (Creating Opportunities and Resources for Empowerment) Campaign, which centers young people’s wellness in community decision-making. Media Literacy Project – spread the word about media justice and wireless policy as LGBTQ issues at the National Conference on Media Reform. National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health – mobilized hundreds of people during their second Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice through a blog carnival, internet activism, and an auction. New Voices Pittsburgh – won the 2011 YWCA Racial Justice Award for Community Engagement for their active work around reproductive justice for women of color. Power U – held their first community forum to address the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Pipeline and prevent the racialized incarceration of youth of color. SPARK Reproductive Justice Now – lobbied the Georgia state legislature and defeated an anti-choice “Right to Life” bill that disproportionately targeted women of color. St. James Infirmary – kicked off a new media campaign, raising public awareness about sex workers’ rights and fighting the stigma attached to sex work. Sylvia Rivera Law Project – educated the public about trans* issues through their various events, including a Coffee Talk series, a Summer Health Series, and teach-ins at Occupy Wall Street. Women with a Vision – won a victory for sex workers’ rights through a legislative action that ended the “Scarlet Letter law,” which required sex workers to register as sex offenders in Louisiana. Young Women’s Empowerment Project – led a march through Chicago to protest the city’s treatment of homeless, homefree, and street-based youth. The march was part of a broad campaign including a self-care guide, a Street Youth Bill of Rights, and posters. Young Women United – defeated five anti-choice bills in New Mexico that threatened the reproductive health and freedom of women and families. Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition – celebrated seven leaders in philanthropy, the third sector, and the corporate world who are supporting leadership development and HIV prevention for young women of color. Third Wave is proud to have been able to support the incredible activists within the organizations above do work to fight to end discrimination in their communities. We are excited to continue to uplift young feminist voices working towards gender justice  in the year ahead.

Posted in: Blog, Community

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A Call To Weave Movements Together

August 11, 2010

We've been doing a lot of reflecting on the points of connection and intersection in our work: where reproductive justice meets and entwines with racial justice, economic justice, justice for LGBTQ people. This call from Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, could not come at a more perfect time. For her 80th birthday, she asks us to consider how we might become stronger by weaving our movements for justice together: (video: Democracy Now!)

Posted in: Blog, Community, Media, Movement Building

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