Is It Enough? A Greedy Feminist Reflects on Women’s History Month
This is the second year I’ve had the privilege of organizing Women’s Herstory Month at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Last year quite a few of my department’s faculty members participated in what I coined “The Sheroes Project,” in which professors posted a picture of a personal or professional shero, along with a brief description of what she has meant to his or her life. There was modest enthusiasm about this project, and I remember thinking at the time that it was worth bringing back for 2013. I also remember feeling deflated by the lackluster response of certain of my colleagues at school who did not share my passion or sense of immediacy to honor the significance of women. As I reflected on this discrepancy I was able to distill my flurry of thought down to a single question: Is it enough?
Is it enough that I attend a school full of women, yet largely dominated by men? Is it enough that my best friend is able to teach feminist theory to her high school English students as long as she omits its name? Is it enough that my other friend has a job as an engineer at her company which can’t seem to let her actually perform her job lest she swing the same hammer as the next guy? I yearn for these questions to be something other than rhetorical, posed before a friendly, if similarly burdened audience.
I’ve heard people say feminism is just a word, just an idea, just a politic. But for me, feminism is not “just” anything. Feminism itself calls forth that which is, by definition, unjust. In this way, feminism cannot be made obsolete or irrelevant, as those who are actively writing history might have us think. There is so clearly (perhaps only to some) still work to be done, and yet I wonder if women are too busy taking on other work to take up the plight of the oppressed once more.
As we move into another Women’s History Month, I find myself paradoxically overwhelmed by equal parts gratitude and greed. I am grateful to live a life in which I don’t have to work that hard to work hard. Thanks to the women who came before me, there is already a place setting for me at the table. I do wonder, however, if it is enough to sit at the table. Perhaps in 2013 we’re all eating silently, still too afraid to remark on our only partially full bellies. And from our place at the table we might not be able to see all of our sisters who are still out there starving.
Allayna Pinkston, MA