The Vine: April 6, 2007
I'm a feminist, and I love your "Yes, You Are" piece. I've even printed it out and brought it into classes when there have been debates about feminism and misogyny. But now I'm facing a big obstacle: my fifteen-year-old sister.
She and I have the same parents, and while I started identifying with feminism the moment I figured out what the word means, she somehow…doesn't.
She's talented, athletic, intelligent and just an awesome kid, but every time we talk she's so much more worried about the catty girls and the attention of boys than actual real achievement. I'm not going to try and tell her that she shouldn't worry about the typical high-school stuff at all, because I don't want to belittle her. But I'd like to find some resources on feminism, particularly for the teenage girl. Web sites are good, and our hometown has a really good library, so books should be fine too. I just don't want her thinking that teenage guys are more important arbiters of her self than, well, she herself is.
When I look back at what influenced me at that age…I didn't do a lot of specifically feminist reading or research. I had feminist parents, and my high school gave us some pretty progressive reading, now that I think about it — we had a required women's-writing trimester, sophomore year, and everyone else read Macbeth, but we read The Bluest Eye.
And I had Sassy. I know how culty people get about that mag, but seriously, we had never seen anything like it before. Seventeen at that time sort of perpetrated the fiction that we didn't have any secondary sexual characteristics, or dark moods, or interests beyond nail polish that came in clever portable pen form (although it is kind of a pity that that technology wasn't more evolved). But Sassy was it, man.
Finding copies on eBay is practically impossible — people don't let their copies go, for good reason — and your sister might get distracted by some of the more hilarious anachronisms. But you might get her a copy of Bust (or the Bust book), and a copy of Bitch. That's probably a good start.
And keep talking to her. If she's knows that it's not just her who's having a hard time becoming who she is, that it's normal? That's the best thing you can do for her, is to give her that understand that she has a core worth and is taken seriously. That's what feminism is about, and it's also what loving people is about, kind of.
Okay, seriously. Readers: feminist resources. Books, mags, websites, online articles all welcome, but please confine yourselves to two resources total. Thanks.
Tags: Ask The Readers feminism the fam