FWO press release


Feminist Writers Organization
Women Writing in the Age of “Post-feminism”
A panel discussion

Moderated by The Feminist Writers Organization
Co-sponsored by The New School Writing Program
Monday, March 26 2012, 6:00pm
66 W. 12th Street, Room 510

On March 26, 2012, the Feminist Writer’s Organization (FWO) of the New School will host and moderate a panel discussion featuring contemporary women writers of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, who have experience working in diverse fields of the literary world. The panel, titled “Women Writing in the Age of ‘Post- feminism,’” will examine the possibilities and limitations for women in the literary industry, and will seek to illuminate how the continued marginalization of women writers connects to the continued prevalence of sexism throughout society.

More women than ever before are seeking careers as professional writers and as teachers of literature and the craft of writing. Yet, as organizations such as VIDA (vidaweb.org) are demonstrating through wide-ranging studies, women rarely achieve equal representation in major anthologies and annual “Best of” lists, and are occasionally excluded entirely. VIDA and others have also shown that women continue to be under-published, under-read, and under-employed at all levels of the literary world. The one area where women are largely represented is in the classroom, as students. This suggests that women, while fit to study literature and the craft of writing, and to pay for the opportunity to do so, are nonetheless seen as less capable of writing literature of merit than men, a sexist misconception that spans the history of criticism toward the work of women writers. Indeed, the continued use of the label “women’s writing” implies the view of writing by women as “special” at best and “inferior” at worst.

The recent emergence of new movements for social justice and human rights on a global scale has highlighted the important contributions of women in all aspects of society. However, because these advancements have occurred alongside continued and increasingly hostile attacks against women’s rights, they demonstrate the need for a renewed feminism. In an age where some purport that equal access to institutions of power has heralded the “end of sexism,” and with it the end of the necessity of feminism, women writers today, whether or not they identify their work as “feminist,” continue to question the present and envision new and strengthened roles as both women and writers in the future.

Panelists will be asked to comment on the above stated realities and the questions they raise, and to discuss their own writing. Panelists are encouraged to consider their own experiences as teachers and students of literature and creative writing, as well as their work as thinkers and activists outside of the classroom. Finally, panelists will have the opportunity to discuss new avenues available for the next generation of writers.

feministWO@newschool.edu ● facebook.com/FeministWO ● feministwriters.wordpress.com


One Comment to “FWO press release”

  1. Define Feminist
    By Lynne Haines

    Recently I educated myself about Feminism and was surprised to learn that a woman about the turn of the century said, “Feminism is the radical belief that women are human beings.” I wish I had known that when the checkout clerk told me “I don’t like Feminism because they all hate men. Me and my husband are a team.”
    Instead I settled for, “I believe you are misinformed. Feminists are women who uphold equal rights for women – all women, many of whom don’t get laid, or paid or have lives worth living.”
    Crude, but effective, I hope. I want her to think about her team mate husband in the light of these questions, ”Am I experiencing life renewing orgasmic sex regularly; am I being paid well for this “standing all day in one spot boring job” and is my life worth living?”
    Well over fifty pounds overweight and unattractive, I doubt she will bring herself to ask those questions and give her self honest answers. Her self-esteem is probably too low; she won’t dare wander into that truth zone. At least now she knows that there are women fighting for those things and they are called Feminists.
    I felt obliged to learn more about Feminism so that I could better represent the valiant women of history who earned me the rights and privileges that I now enjoy with their intelligence, courage and sacrifices. That’s how I came across Anna Garlin Spencer.
    Often forgotten and overlooked Anna was quite the feminist philosopher. She gives Ayn Rand a run for her money. In my opinion she has outstripped her by a mile, maybe two with her vision of a future that includes a third phase of life for women that is vibrant, alive and valuable. The Women’s History page at About.com reduces the title of her essay to After Motherhood from Anna’s original title “The Social Use of the Post Graduate Mother”.
    Written in 1913 Anna’s title is more accurate for her era as an introduction to the very compelling Chapter VIII of her book Woman’s Share in Social Culture. Filled with erudite comment on both the true history of women and women’s actual scientifically proven capabilities, Anna urges us toward a bright and meaningful future after motherhood.
    To my mind it would be more appropriate to think of her vision as attainable in the third phase of womanhood: postmenstrual. Not every woman bears and raises children – but every woman goes through the same two major physical initiations of bleeding (menses) and stopping bleeding (menopause or post menses). Ancient graphic symbols of the new moon crescent, the full moon circle, and the waning moon crescent clearly depict the fact that all of us/women have three main phases. It is who we are – it defines our lives as feminine.
    This is our true common ground. Every woman of every race, creed, education, political persuasion, caste or economic status lives this truth. I use the words: youth, fertility, and wisdom to epitomize these universally feminine phases. For women to be willing to raise their consciousness they/we must be able to identify with each other and share their/our life experiences, our real truths about before menses, during menses and after menses. Common ground is vital to prevent divisive factors from thwarting our spiritual development and achieving our goal of equal rights. Who better to describe women to women, than themselves? Until now we have had to subscribe to the male value oriented versions of ourselves as prescribed for our roles of daughter, sister, mother, lover, wife – all roles adjunct to the support of men whom we give birth to, nurture and educate while they are children.
    By far, being a mother is the most selfless, underpaid and under-rewarded job in the universe, in my opinion. The pay is non-existent, there are no holidays and children don’t usually appreciate their mothers until they are adults themselves.
    Or as I originally stated it, before I became aware of the sensitivities of others, “The pay sucks, there’s no vacations and no one says thank-you until they are twenty-five.” But then, I was only speaking from my experience of raising a son and a daughter. What the hell would I know?
    A lot! Like my mother in law of four sons and one husband has been known to say when she found herself in an argument swith them and crushed by male logic, “I know what I know.” End of argument. We cannot prove or validate by any means other than our own experience what we know in our hearts and minds to be true. We don’t need to – or do we? Looks like we do, ladies. Hence the Feminists!
    They educated themselves to speak their truths in the language and logic of the male value oriented societies they found themselves in and they received recognition for their efforts. They threw off the political correctness of their times and let it all hang out – in English, French, German and in no uncertain terms. And so we have the lives we lead today but still refrain from entering these women into “history” as we teach it in schools everywhere.
    Ann Boelyn was responsible for the separation of church and state – but all we remember her for is that her husband the king killed her by chopping off her head. Separating church and state enabled the development of human rights as well as the economic and legal laws that we live by today. It freed us from the Pope’s version of what God wanted us to do and not do. The Pope being the actual voice of God the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost everyone was subject to his edicts if they wanted a better life after this one.
    As a side note that Anna addresses in a much more intelligent manner in her essay, I have always presumed that the Holey Ghost must be the feminine part of God. And since I won’t get burned or stoned to death for such thinking I want to ask how there can be a father and son without a woman in the picture? I don’t think they had cloning back then; or did I miss something?
    Anyway, who writes history? We must, obviously or we get relegated to subservient roles and bit parts, when in fact we are often the “brains behind the brawn” and “the iron hand in the velvet glove” as my Mummy used to say – not to mention the gateway into this world for everyone! Unless cloning puts us out of that business – and it might soon.
    A most unlikely feminist is now encouraging women/us to have the courage to speak up when others don’t want us to. She asks us to put our ideas forth even if they won’t be well received. Israd Manji says we should do this because once an idea is released it cannot be taken back, un-thought, un-said, or deleted from consciousness. It may be denied, forgotten for a time, forbidden, even maligned as false – but once the genii are out of the bottle – she’s out and about forever!
    I say unlikely because to me Israd Manji is the last woman I would expect to be able to advocate speaking out. Her race of women – the women in her religion, her culture, are the women most brutally denuded of all self worth, education, and value. Yet here she is urging us to talk to each other, to ask questions of our oppressors; be they enforcing wearing a burka or talking down to us in country music lyrics.
    Here is another Anna Garlin Spencer from the other side of the world saying yes to Feminism. We are human beings! Israd is adding a layer of consciousness to women willing to watch her on u-tube, which we wouldn’t have had. She gives me courage, I feel proud to speak up knowing I am in her good company – a feminist of my time and era.
    Anna would be proud of us too. I am one of the women she urged to blossom in the third phase of womanhood. I have Anna for moral support and inspiration and I continue to move forward communicating with other women the fact that we are not yet equal. Even those of us in privileged America, Europe and Asia. We are the minority. If we want to see the vision Anna describes as attainable in After Motherhood become a reality then we must keep moving our lips – speaking our truths.
    Nothing in the current descriptions of Feminist defines us as a movement or entity that has ended. The hundreds of thousands of martyrs in the dark ages, the old women killed by superstition as witches are vindicated by my thoughts and my efforts to convince the counter clerk that she may be missing the boat by being part of a one man team.
    But I know I am not wasting my time on you Sista!

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