The following conversation appears this week on The Feminist Wire. Here, Andrea and I discuss why we launched this website.
Tami: You had to work Benedict Cumberbatch in here, didn’t you? I’m beginning to think you’re secretly a bigger fan than I am! I’m no stranger to Andrea shenanigans. We’ve known each other, what, five or six years?
Andrea: Sis, I know Cumberbatch is your catnip, so I knew I could get you here.
As far as knowing each other, I think so. I remember so loving your old blog, What Tami Said, where I committed a few shenanigans in the comments section. But I think that where we realized that we were both born and reared in the Midwest, that we looooved Duran Duran, and that we watched Hee Haw (word to Porter Wagoner, Minnie Pearl, and Dolly Parton).
Tami: And, of course, like all good things, Carmen (Van Kerckhove) Sognonvi is behind our really cyber-meeting. We were both contributors and, eventually, editors at Racialicious. I’m still there, of course, working with Latoya Peterson. I was a huge fan of your work as a Sexual Correspondent there. And we both spent some time writing for Change.org’s short-lived site focused on race.
Andrea: And as quiet as it’s kept, you and I didn’t meet in person until this past Spring. Yes, shenanigans ensued.
We actually thought about starting a blog together about a year ago, but I guess we weren’t at the point where we were ready to do it.
Tami: Two weeks ago, we did it. We launched Squeezed Between Feminisms (SBF). What motivated us is that we both realized our relationship with online feminism is changing as we grow older. You did some research, and it hit us that we probably weren’t alone. A lot of Gen X women are online, which makes sense as the web was emerging as a communications tool as we were coming of age. Still, we both agree that the presence of women our age is not reflected in the content of most popular feminist websites.
Can you explain how you feel online feminism meets or doesn’t meet your needs a black, 40-something woman?
Andrea: I feel like what I’ve seen online really speaks to the concerns and interests of 20-something and 30-something feminists. This makes demographic sense, as stats can support.
But feminism is older than that; at 44, I’m older than that. I remember when, say, bell hooks’ book, Ain’t I A Woman, arrived on the feminist scene. I remember when Making Face, Making Soul first came to my women’s studies classes. I remember the National Women’s Studies Association fallout. But I also remember the seismic shift from Second Wave to Third Wave feminism, not as contested canon, but as a lived contested event. As much as I love talking with and learning from my younger feminist homies, I also wanted a space where I could talk all of those things as lived experience, not just as something learned in college. I wanted a place to talk about the “Porn Wars” and its effect and how the Riot Grrls weren’t the only way to be a feminists–in fact, the Riot Grrls weren’t relevant to me. Lisa Jones was.
Tami: I agree, Andrea. As Gen Xers–and Gen Xers of color–we bring a different context to feminism, but because we are outnumbered, that contribution is often erased.
I have learned a lot from online feminism, but lately I have felt squeezed out of the conversation. Society has long rendered women over 40 invisible. Feminism shouldn’t do that. But I find that spaces like The Feminist Wire, which digs into race and gender and sexuality and class through a feminist lens and speaks across generations, are rare indeed. Jane Pratt is 50, but even her XOJane preferences the voices of 20-somethings. If Lena Dunham and Zooey Deschanel are the pop culture centers of online feminist conversation, then I think a whole lot of people, including me, aren’t getting their needs addressed.
For instance, I want to talk about reproductive health care and that includes birth control and abortion, but I also want to talk about perimenopause and sexual health post-35.