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Full Frontal Feminism (AlterNet interview with Jessica Valenti)

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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 06:49 AM
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Full Frontal Feminism (AlterNet interview with Jessica Valenti)
Full Frontal Feminism

By Laura Barcella, AlterNet. Posted April 24, 2007.

Jessica Valenti's new book aims to make women's rights cool again -- to make feminism a lifestyle as well as a movement. Read an excerpt from the book and her conversation with AlterNet.

Editor's Note: An excerpt from Full Frontal Feminism follows the interview.

As executive editor of the popular blog ("by and for young feminists"), Jessica Valenti has schooled millions of readers on the issues that affect everyday women. Her cadre of feisty female bloggers cover everything from breaking news (the heartbreaking federal abortion ban) to pop culture indignities (sexism in reality TV) with smarts, passion and political aplomb.

As the public face of Feministing, 28-year-old Valenti has helped bring third-wave feminism to the masses. But she doesn't only want to reach the stereotypical feminist suspects (women's studies majors and middle-aged, middle-class white women). In her new book, "Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide to Why Feminism Matters," Valenti hopes to pass the political torch to younger women who might feel and act like feminists but be too freaked out to call themselves that. The book is written in a light, sometimes sarcastic tone that aims to make women's rights cool again -- to make feminism a lifestyle as well as a movement.

AlterNet spoke with Valenti via telephone.

Why was writing this book important to you?

It was a natural extension of the stuff I've been doing at Feministing. I've wanted to write something like this for a long time. It was a book I wish I had when I was in high school. So much feminism out there isn't accessible to younger women who aren't in women's studies classes. I a fun, easy intro for younger women who might buy into the stereotypes; something really accessible that girls can talk about with their friends ... So many young women are afraid to get involved in politics; they think they don't know enough to get involved. They have the views but don't have the language.

So you mainly wrote the book for young women who aren't necessarily politically active?

Yeah, I'd say so. But I hope the book will be a refresher for women who already think of themselves as feminists.


You wrote a piece for TPMCafe about how there are generational "feminist sororities" within the movement, and how it's harder for younger feminists to be taken seriously. What prompted it?

I felt like that conversation needed to be had. It happens behind closed doors, but no one wants to talk about it. The backlash against feminism is so intense that showing any sign of strife is scary, because you don't want to give ammunition to the right.

It had been on my mind for a long time, and I finally put it out there. I think most people were great in their responses, like Katha Pollitt's -- it got the conversation started about what we can do to bridge the gaps. So many of us put forth this united front that all is great ...

I just think there needs to be an open discourse. The WAM list (Women Action Media) and their conferences are fantastic help. Not necessarily for women writers, but in national organizing scenes, the onus is on older feminists to pass the torch and make sure younger women aren't just fetching coffee but are in decision-making positions, being taken seriously.

What are your thoughts on the HPV vaccine? It's been debated quite a bit among feminist circles.

Ann has written about it. I go back and forth about whether it should be mandatory. It's a really complicated issue. I think it should be affordable and available to younger women. But whether it should be mandated or not, I haven't really figured out yet ...

I know you responded to Carrie Lukas' recent Washington Post piece about the wage gap being a "bargain," and about how women make less money because they choose to. I'm guessing you think that's bullshit.

She used statistics to make a completely tired, crappy argument that women hate making money, that women would rather sit around changing diapers than make money. No one pisses me off more than women anti-feminists; they're selling us all down the river for a pat on the head from men. This is a woman who was well-educated and on the speaker circuit, who works her ass off and makes good money. Come on; tell a working single mother that the wage gap is a bargain! ....(more)

The complete piece is at:

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3waygeek Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 06:43 PM
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1. Another interview with Valenti
in today's Salon.
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