Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Never you fear!

In honor of Women's Equality Day, I give you....a song.

The movie Mary Poppins ends with Winifred Banks's happy return to her domestic duties, where she casts off her suffragette ribbons and attaches them to Jane and Michael's kite in the park.

Still, I'm pretty sure Mary Poppins and Mrs. Banks are the reason I am a feminist today.


Tania said...

Well done, sister suffragette!

WendyM said...

How utterly appropriate!

The Nerd said...

I always did enjoy her spirit, and how the Lucky Sweeps joined in the celebration.

Shelby Knox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shelby Knox said...

This made my day! And, I second the feminist glee at the Emmeline Pankhurst reference!

Now to get serious feminist analyst on this fun song, I was struck by the lyrics:

"Our daughters' daughters will adore us. And they'll sing in grateful chorus "Well done, Sister Suffragette!"

As the "daughters' daughters,"are we grateful? And, do we need to be?

Yes, those that find their way to this blog are are celebrating Equality Day and are aware of the struggles of the women before us.
But in reality each generation has made their mark by decrying the shortcomings of the waves of feminism that came before them - the second wave did it to the first wave, the suffragists, by attacking them for focusing too narrowly on the vote. The third wave has done it to the second wave by attacking them for not being diverse enough and for excluding LGBT and male humans from the fight. If this is gratitude, who needs enemies?

I've heard Gloria Steinem say many times that "Gratitude never radicalized anybody. My generation didn't walk around grateful for the vote." She doesn't want our generation's thanks but for us to get pissed off enough on our own behalf to mark our mark on the world. On one hand, I agree wholeheartedly - after all, progress isn't made by focusing on what's already been done.

But, on the other hand, I think being grateful is a sign that we know our herstory, that we take strength from it and stand in solidarity with the women who fought the same fight we are waging now. We obviously have ideological disagreements across and within the generations but our activism comes from the same place of recognizing injustice and embarking on a struggle to fight it.

I've noticed how our generation's feminist lexicon doesn't include the word "sister," probably partly because we don't want to consider the second wave women who still control much of the movement our "sisters." But, I think we could all do with a little more gratitude, both for the women before us and the women beside us, regardless of age or wave, simply because when it comes right down to it we are working for the same end, to quote Mrs. Banks: "Political equality and equal rights with men!"

Happy Equality Day to all my sisters!