Conference keynote speaker Zoe Nicholson on intergenerational feminism

Orginally published at The Radical Housewife.

One of the great perks of my position as Minnesota NOW has been making the acquaintance of activists from across the country, but few have knocked me out quite like Pacific Shore NOW member Zoe Nicholson.

Author of “The Hungry Heart,” a diary of the 37 days she fasted for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, Zoe is also a board member of the Veteran Feminists of America, founder of  The Bridge Project, a featured subject in the LGBT equality documentary “March On!” (which has its Midwest premiere April 13, 2012), and a popular speaker at schools and events nationwide.

As a matter of fact, she’ll be delivering the keynote address at the combined Minnesota NOW and Prairie States Regional NOW conference, held April 14, 2012, with a presentation she calls “The Life of an Activist.”  She kindly agreed to share some of her thoughts with me for my blog readers.

What follows is just the beginning of our conversation…

 

 

THE RADICAL HOUSEWIFE: I want to start with your thoughts about intergenerational feminism.  I admit that one of the first thoughts I had when I finished “The Hungry Heart” was how damned exciting the Second Wave must have been!  How do we resist the urge to think of the feminist movement as something that had its best years in its past?  

ZOE NICHOLSON: There are many answers but at the root is a call to embrace and participate in change.  Society is breathing and changing just like each of us.  The U.S. Women’s Movement (shall we call its birth 1848?) is a living breathing entity who is unfolding, advancing, evolving.

In 1967, women marching on Wall Street for credit, marching on 5th Avenue for jobs, meeting in homes to share stories was really about the oppressed collecting their energy and focus to advance social change.  Today the tools, the ground of experience, the venues may be different but the movement is the same.  Women, and the men who love them, are collecting around issues making social constructs quake.

There is an illusion that nothing is happening now to rival 35/40 years ago.  If you judge on stars, single charismatic people; Millett, Steinem, Abzug, Friedan, yes that form of igniting action is over.  But that is just a longing for nostalgia, like Mad Man or Marilyn or easy bake ovens.  We are in a great shift of how information is collated, distributed, interpreted and inspires.

Today we are driven by conflict, issues, ideas, crisis, oppressions.  Just to name a few, look at Slutwalk, Occupy, Dreamers, Keystone.  We may clamor for a leader but, ultimately, that is not what is creating the motion ~ it is the oppression itself.  Let’s be sophisticated enough to say, without apology, that the GOP War on Women is the galvanizing force for 4/28.  We are not celebrating that a Toronto woman was told to not dress like a slut but it was our call to action.  It was not a single person standing in front of a microphone, or in the paper, or on a talk show that got us to say, “enough is enough.”  Ideas are our new stars.  Equality is our now both our end and our means.

I want to be clear that I am NOT saying we are reactionary only.  That would be only returning in kind.  I am saying that we are now free from mimeo machines, bulk mailing, home gatherings.  We are enabled with the whole world of electronic communication and just ask the Congressional switchboard how that’s working when a tweet goes out recommending we all call on a certain vote. [Susan B.] Anthony taking the train, waiting for a letter from Elizabeth [Cady Stanton], traveling the West to tell women about the vote – oh how she would have been enabled to reach across the country from a keyboard.  And in the doing, we might have not noticed who said what, we are content driven now.

You ask about our best years.  They are straight ahead.  Everything that has happened since 1848 is on a trajectory.  Women standing in front of Wilson’s White House, Ms. Paul force fed in prison, lesbians held at the gate of Houston 1977 finally invited in, 89 years of work to explicitly include women in the Constitution,  oh, too many to list; are all on the move to change the human paradigm to full equality.  If you are not excited and inspired, you are looking in the wrong direction.

For more from Zoe, watch this space, or check out these links: 

Online With Zoe (her wonderful blog)

MARCH ON! The Movie (a truly great film by Laura McFerrin about the National Equality March of 2009)

Zoe’s Amazon author page, including the brand-new edition of The Hungry Heart for Kindle (a document of the Second Wave that I probably can’t recommend enough)

 

Minnesota NOW hosts area premiere of “MARCH ON!”

 

Minnesota NOW is thrilled to host the area premiere of “March On,” a film documenting the emotional and physical journeys of five women, three men, and one baby who, with over a hundred thousand others, attended the National Equality March in October 2009. The film will be shown at 7 PM on Friday, April 13, at the Oak Ridge Conference Center in Chaska, MN.  One of the film’s stars, Zoe Nicholson, will be in attendance and will host a post-screening Q & A.

Directed by Laura McFerrin, “March On” made its world premiere at the 2012 Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival, where it won the Audience Favorite Award.  The film shares the stories of a lesbian couple from California who were one of the 18,000 allowed to marry before Prop 8; a New York gay couple who have been together 32 years, wrestling with both religious bigotry and marriage inequality in the New York courts; a chef dismissed from the Navy under the now-repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; the founders of AreWeMarried.com, a lesbian couple with a baby daughter and a mission to find where in the USA their marriage is legally recognized; and a life-long justice activist who has traveled this road for over 40 years.
The film also features the National Equality March appearances of Lt. Dan Choi, Michelle Clunie, Cleve Jones, Staceyann Chin, Cynthia Nixon, and Lady Gaga, who famously announces: “Obama, I know you’re listening!”

“March On” is being shown in conjunction with Minnesota NOW’s 2012 State Conference, “Equality for All,” occurring at Oak Ridge Conference Center on Saturday, April 14.  Nicholson will speak, as will Richard Carlbom, Executive Director of Minnesotans United for All Families.  Registration for the conference includes free admission to “March On.”

Tickets to the screening alone are $10, which includes popcorn, soda, and the discussion with Nicholson.  Tickets will be available at the door, or may be pre-ordered at the Minnesota NOW state conference website:

SEND MONEY NOW TO SUPPORT PUPPIES!

By Beth Anderson, Minnesota NOW Fundraising Chair

Hello??

You have no doubt heard about our Technology Fundraising Drive, or as I like to call it the “Two-Dixie-Cups-and-a-String Initiative.”

What?  You heard “Two Risky Pups In A Sling?”  My point exactly.

Our technology at the Minnesota NOW office is so old Aunt Bea could operate it.  Our kindly donated ancient computers have crashed, and our state-of-the-century printer has lost all of her movable typeset Rs, and our publishing software relies on a T-square and pencil.  So this year’s annual appeal has been focused like a laser beam on TECHNOLOGY.

Where is this browser’s “back” button, Sally?

Blue tooth? iPads? Droids? Sounds like my medicine cabinet!  And don’t get me started on these little devices we carry to keep in constant contact with our 20,000 closest friends.  I’ve actually been known to talk to the person across the table from me at dinner, but I’m old fashioned.

None-the-less, even I am willing to make some changes if it makes us more effective and efficient in bringing equality to Minnesota.  I want to be able to organize with a click of a button and this means new computers with adequate memory.

I want to receive up-to-the-second feminist analysis on the events of the day.  This means new software to communicate with our members.

I want to reach out to young activists, this means meeting them on their turf: on Facebook and in the Blogosphere.

(I picked those words up from my niece, a young activist who knows.)

I want to improve the position of Minnesota NOW so we aren’t relying on staff and volunteers to provide their own computer equipment.   I want our volunteers to spend more time fighting for equality and less time fighting the software.

This didn’t happen to Susan B. Anthony…

So I have put my money where my mouth is.  I clicked a button for Minnesota NOW.

Will you join me?  Point your browser to www.mnnow.org and click on the purple button labeled 2012 Appeal / Resources For Equality.  Punch in your numbers and please give generously.

Because when it comes to activism, Two Pups In A Sling is so 48K.