Everywhere and Nowhere: Contemporary Feminism in the United States

By Jo Reger | Go to book overview

Conclusion

SITTING WITH MY family on the deck of a rented vacation home in the midst of rural Ohio, my sister-in-law turned to me and asked, “What is your book about?” She followed that question by asking, “So, what is going on with feminism today?” In that moment she asked two of the questions I have wrestled with over the last several years while writing this book. Sitting in the sunshine, I began to talk. I told her that feminism is not dead and that communities shape how contemporary feminism is done. After several minutes of my explanations, she then asked, “So, what are feminists doing today?” It was here that I stumbled. I know what contemporary feminists are doing. I have spent years talking and being with them, but I wanted to list tangible accomplishments—demonstrations, policy changes and legislative outcomes—so she understood the importance of my research and the continued relevance of feminism. I wanted to show her (using the framework of conventional social movement theory and the language of outcomes) that contemporary feminism was making her life better. But we were having this conversation situated in a place where Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck inform most political opinions, a place where the Confederate flag continues to be displayed on bumper stickers and ball caps. While I believe that contemporary feminism continues to make a difference, at that moment, the feminist communities of Woodview, Evers and Green City seemed a world away. Looking back on this conversation, I can see that here is another example of how feminism is nowhere (i.e., not an identifiable voice in the political discourse of this place), and yet, as I sat on the porch with my family, I could also see how all of us have been touched by the everywhere of feminism. We expect our daughters and sons to have equal opportunities in the world around us. My sisters and I have made a variety of life choices made possible by the efforts of feminists. We have attended college in a variety of disciplines and fields. My sisters have entered and exited the workplace based on the needs of their families, and not the dictates of societal gender norms or corporate policy. We all carry credit cards in our own names and can apply for bank loans as individuals. We are married, divorced, partnered. We are two-par

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