Friday, July 27, 2007

Gratitude Friday

I'm writing from a Starbucks around the corner from my dad's office here in downtown Chicago, waiting for the opening bell of BlogHer to ring. Yesterday's Demos Women's Leadership Forum about my book was truly a high. Thank you to all you who came out -- especially those who had to stand in the doorways! Respondents Mary Hartman of the Institute for Women's Leadership at Rutgers and Desiree Flores from the Ms. Foundation were fabulous (and said such nice things!). Ever since my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Furstenburg, taught us to say "Thank you, Grandma, thank you", I've been a firm believer in gratitude. So I thought I'd share the public thanks part of my talk:
I begin with a story about an intergenerational exchange.

When the folks at Demos and I had our first conversation about putting together this forum, I was working on Q&A document for my publisher to send around with the book, and I sent an early draft to Linda Tarr-Whelan. There was a question about what are the stereotypes that different generations of women, and in particular, feminists, have of each other. I wrote in response that feminists have fallen into the worst kind of generational stereotyping. “Veteran feminists, Boomers, tend to think younger women are self-hating, apolitical bimbos who aspire to be Bettie Page instead of Betty Friedan.” I then wrote, “Younger feminists think veterans are man-hating power-mongerers who won’t pass the torch and never go online.”

And Linda rightly stopped me there and said “Which Boomer women are you talking about? And what kind of feminism? Academic feminism?”

And in doing so she reminded me, of course, to be wary of falling into the broad stereotyping that I rail against in my book.

So I preface my talk by saying that there are indeed shining examples of cross-generational collaboration among women and within the feminist movement. And as I’ve toured the country these past two months, I’ve been struck by the connections that I’ve witnessed during and after some of my readings.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that Demos itself has partnered with the Building Movement Project, and together they’ve done stellar work on the topic of generational change and nonprofit leadership.

The Ms. Foundation has been a stalwart supporter of younger women’s organizing.

The Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership is built around the premise that older women leaders need to mentor younger ones.

And various women at the National Council for Research on Women have personally mentored me since I was in college – I’ve been working on and off with women’s research centers within this network pretty much since my senior year.

So I want to give kudos where kudos are due. And I want to send forth a note of profound gratitude for the hard work that these organizations do. I feel honored and humbled to be here in a room with such change-makers. I thank you all for coming together to cosponsor this event. You are the avant-garde. I look forward to the day that you are the norm....

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