Everywhere & Nowhere: Contemporary Feminism in the United States relates to the overall theme of this unit by exploring how the efforts of first and second wave feminists in American history that have shaped contemporary feminism today. Author Jo Reger shares the “surfacing” of today’s third wave feminists, with a majority being influenced by their parents. She uses the word “everywhere” as an overarching theme that represents “the idea that as social movements continue over long periods of time, their ideas and goals are pervasive, becoming a part of everyday cultural beliefs and norms”. By making such an accusation, Reger is making sure her audience understands that contemporary feminism is shaped by the past endeavors of first and second wave feminists.
After viewing the video WHY I’M A…FEMINIST *gasp* video, I found that a lot of Laci Green’s statements aligned with the thoughts expressed in this unit’s book. She makes note of the large pay gap between the men and women of our society by sharing her past work experience of being paid half the amount of her less qualified male coworker. Reger lays out this injustice in her novel when she speaks of our society’s views of men being more powerful in the workplace than women. Green also speaks of how her father “never once did the laundry or cleaned the house” while her mother was held back doing all household chores. This idea is something touched on in Everywhere and Nowhere as well when stereotypes of the American housewife are spoken about. While these similarities are important, what I found most prevalent was Green’s final declaration. She claims “we’re not there yet”, following Reger’s idea that although there has been progression over the years, there is a long way to go for women’s rights.
In Feminist Thought: A More Comprehensive Introduction, Rosemarie Tong states that “much of contemporary feminist theory reacts against traditional liberal feminism” before briefly discusses groups such as the National Organization of Women (NOW). As stated earlier, these ideas follow Reger’s thoughts of first and second wave activists paving the way for feminism today. Something I found incredibly interesting is Tong’s statement that contemporary feminists “stress the pleasures of sex (be it heterosexual, lesbian or autoerotic)”. Such a proclamation reminded me of the many interviews mentioning the feminist performance “Vagina Monologues” by contemporary activists in Everywhere and Nowhere. The interviewees spoke of the large use of words such as “vagina” and “cunt” when speaking of the pleasures of sex in their performance. Lastly, I found the discussion of Freud’s idea of the pre-Oedipal stage to align with Reger’s ideas of contemporary feminists following the ideas of their mothers. Although the pre-Oedipal stage ends with the so-called Oedipal complex, the process by which the boy gives up his first love object (the mother), all infants are symbiotically attached to their mothers from the start. This leads me to believe that such an attachment could cause a following of the mother’s beliefs later in life.
The video Poetry and Trans Politics: Darkmatter provided an interesting outlook from two performers who identify themselves as transfeminine. They state that their Indian background raised them with expectations of being successful while being as invisible as possible. However, their transfeminine identities seemed to veer from invisibility. Through their performances, they try to provide a space for other people who have identified as trans and feel “erased” by society. Their artistic and activist practice however does not follow with the LGBT movement that they say is a “marketing scheme for white people”. Instead, they share that the average trans person struggles financially poor and they are merely striving for economic and radical justice. This follows the legislative justice that Reger claims first and second wave feminists worked so hard for.