Turbo Chicks: Talkin' 'Bout My Generation: Third-Wave Feminism Is Comfortable with Contradiction Because That's the Only Way the World Makes Sense

Article excerpt

"Third-wave feminism" is a catchy yet contested term for the ideas and activism of young North American women. Lara Karaian, Allyson Mitchell, and Lisa Bundle created an anthology that reflects the issues and experiences of these women. Their book, Turbo Chicks, (Sumach Press, 2001) challenges the image of young women as apathetic, apolitical dupes of an anti-feminist backlash. Instead, the contributors to Turbo Chicks present a lively, intriguing series of opinions and perspectives which are by turns thoughtful, provocative, funny, angry and poignant. In this interview, the editors reflect on third-wave feminism.

Q: What inspired you to create Turbo Chicks?

LARA KARAIAN: I always wondered how it was that I "became" a feminist, and because of this, I started a research project on the influences and barriers to women taking on the feminist label.

ALLYSON MITCHELL: I started on the path of creating the book because I was genuinely interested in what young women were doing with feminism. Finding out about the activism that young women were doing around zincs, music, actions and film made so much sense to me. It was the place where all of my school learning fit into actions that weren't just about writing essays. At the same time, I was concerned by some of the sentiments that `older' feminists were voicing about young women like me. My experiences contradicted their accusations of apathy. I thought, if I'm going to pursue this as a career, I want to help set the record straight so my colleagues wouldn't be so dismissive or threatened by women my age and younger.

LISA RUNDLE: I'm a writer and now the editor of the online alternative media portal rabble.ca. I write a lot on issues involving young women and feminism. My interest in young feminism came from the shock of discovering that there were generational appreciation gaps between feminists. I hoped Turbo Chicks would help make space for some of the perspectives of younger women in and about feminisms and encourage the kind of great discussion feminism has always inspired.

Lisa, in the book's introduction you ask, "What does it mean to have grown up in Canada after the women's movement's influence of the 1970s? A lot of the structural equality rights had been won by the time we came along and we grew up with different expectations." Can you expand on this a bit?

LISA: I mean that political movements and personal experiences change as the world changes. For example, I was just reading an article written in 1968 about the first organized protest of the American women's movement -- against the Miss America pageant. They were fighting against a system of patriarchy and exploitation that hadn't been widely critiqued yet -- or at least all the feminist critiques that were out there hadn't seeped into mainstream culture. They were naming things for the first time and, in a way, fighting clearer foes because sexism was so unchecked.

By the time I was born in the mid-70s, the world had already changed because of the work of second-wave feminists, as well as average people who thought that the world needed to be fairer. Many unfair laws had changed and many more would change before I became a conscious political being. My world was different than my mother's. And my feminism is different. My challenges are new.

It's different being told, `You're just a girl and you can only be a nurse, a secretary, a teacher or a full-time mom,' like my mother was, and being told, `You can do anything; there aren't any boxes,' but finding yourself in them anyway and trying to find your own way out. I think the boxes change for women, depending when and where and who you are.

Allyson, you work a lot with pop culture. Many of the pieces in the book use pop culture in some way. What do you feel is the influence of pop culture on young feminism, and how can young feminists engage productively with it?

ALLYSON: The term `third-wave feminism' began as a positive assertion of feminism after a media blitz about post-feminism or the death of feminism. …