I’ve been neck-deep in non-internet things the last week or so, but I keep catching snippets of information on Maria Shriver’s “Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything” as featured on the Sunday morning news roundtable Meet the Press. (You can read the full report here, or watch clips from the show here). I haven’t caught up with it all myself, but it’s on my to-do list (along with grading 45 midterms and about a traz-jillion other things).
PilgrimSoul piqued my interest again with a link to an affiliated site Shriver has a major hand in: California Women. Along with all of the features you might expect, CW (which is really not only for West Coasters) has a page called “XX Effect” (cribbing off Slate?) which features blurbs from women–some famous, others only famous to us Harpies–in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s+ answering that hoary old question: “What Do Women Want?”
I have mixed feelings about this feature, and its accompanying forum. Not because any of the responses are “wrong,” but because I feel the question itself is a dead end. While the internet and the blog/forum interface have allowed a lot of individuals a place to share their personal thoughts and experiences with each other, a growing, mostly disconnected pile of individual (and individualistic) responses feels insufficient to the very real challenges that women face. There’s a place for CR groups, but I fear that “sharing” can too easily become an end, rather than a means.
Using Freud’s formulation seems like exactly the wrong thing to do–not only because it allows a wealthy, educated western white dude to frame the conversation yet again, but because it relies on the idea that there is this thing called Women that can be encapsulated or explained, and that needs encapsulation and explanation. (Deciding that Women are both a multi-headed, single-minded entity and still so very confuzzling is trying to have it both ways.)
It’s not as catchy, I guess, but I’d rather see a prompt like “What do think is the biggest challenge facing [American/Western/etc.] women today and what should be done about it?” or “What sort of legislation or cultural policy would most help women’s day-to-day lives?” Rather than airing personal grievances (not to say that all the contributors are; merely that the question leads in that direction), we’re focusing on larger problems and their causes–and most importantly, their solutions.
So, readers, I’m not going to ask you what YOU want, or what Women (y’know, them) want. But I am curious to know which issues–or perhaps I should say Issues–you think California Women, an advocacy group with a lot a star power, would do best to focus on.
Reproductive rights? Rooting out fat-talk? Crushing our corporate overlords? Passing the ERA? Re-education camps for Nice Guys and Mainsplainers? Reforming healthcare? Answering Freud’s question, after all? Di me.
Bonus Round: What do you think of the fact that the word “feminism” isn’t being used over at XX Effect?