Day 147; Courtney Martin: Reinventing feminism

Courtney Martin was raised on ‘free to be you’ and grew up in a household where her father left the men only business club and her mother set up the longest running women’s film festival in the world. As a teenager, she never identified with feminism as, to her, this represented her mother’s women’s groups and was a world away from school and her friends.
Martin’s first real interest in feminism came as a result of fishnet stockings. She went to see Amy Richard and Jennifer Baumgardner speak about their book, ‘Manifesta.’ Baumgardner was wearing fishnets and Martin thought they were really hot.
Martin now edits the worlds most popular feminist site, ‘Feministing.’ Her principles are the same as her mothers, yet they look different. Her Mum says patriarchy; Martin says intersectionality. Her Mum says protest; Martin says online organising. Feminist blogging is the new generation protest; teenage girls email Martin who stumbled on her site while searching for Jessica Simpson and realise what feminism is really about.
The second generational paradox is that we must sober up about our smallness and maintain faith in our greatness. The world has so many problems that instead of being apathetic, the current generation are simply overwhelmed. Martin experienced this herself when she graduated. She worked at a non-profit, volunteered and yet none of it seemed to make a difference. After confiding in her mother about her disillusionment, her mother told her she wouldn’t stand for her desperation.
This brings Martin to her third paradox, which is that growing up means aiming to succeed wildly and failing really well. We must act in the face of overwhelm; for Martin, this means that she writes. Others may make a film about their beliefs. It’s all about embracing the paradoxes.


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