“What is the most important challenge facing women in the 21st century, and why?”
That one isn’t easy for anyone to answer, especially in 300 words or less. But that was the assignment from editors of the University of Texas’ web site for faculty members contributing to the “Many Voices of Feminism” collection, which is online at http://www.utexas.edu/features/2009/03/09/feminisms/.
It is an especially tricky question for a man to try to answer. Rather than pretending to speak for women or for feminism, I wanted to explain why I embraced feminism as a method for analyzing hierarchy that could be useful in all social movements. Although men often treat feminism as a threat, in the 20 years I have been involved in feminist projects I have come to recognize it as a gift to men who want to understand and critique not only gender but other oppressive systems. For me, feminism is a crucial part of the struggle for social justice and sustainability.
Below are the 306 words that I came up with, not to answer the question but to hint at the compelling reasons we all should commit to feminism and the other progressive social movements that are necessary if there is to be a hope for a decent future, or any future at all.
Given the disastrous consequences of the human assault on the ecosystem that makes our lives possible, the most important 21st-century challenge for women is the same as for men: Can we change the way we organize ourselves socially, politically, and economically in time to reverse this ecological collapse? Can we learn to live in sustainable balance with the non-human world so that we might make it to the end of the 21st century with our humanity intact?
Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.
In facing these social, political, and economic challenges, I believe women have a crucial contribution to make through feminism. My own intellectual and political development is rooted in the feminism I learned from women, both in the classroom and community. Much of my work has addressed men’s use and abuse of women and their sexuality in the sexual-exploitation industries: prostitution, stripping, and pornography. But from those women I also learned that feminism was not merely a concern for “women’s issues” but also a way of understanding power and critiquing the domination/subordination dynamic that is central to so much of modern life. The roots of that dynamic are in patriarchy, the system of male dominance that arose only a few thousand years ago but that has been so destructive to people and the earth. Patriarchy is incompatible with justice and sustainability.
The challenge for feminism is to articulate an alternative to the illegitimate hierarchies that structure our lives: men over women, white over non-white, rich over poor, First World over Third. That isn’t “women’s work” but “feminism’s work,” which we all should undertake, in conjunction with the many other intellectual and political movements concerned with real justice. If we can change the way we treat each other, those new non-hierarchical social arrangements may help us solve the fundamental problem of the destruction inherent in human domination over the non-human world.
Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center. He is the author of Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (South End Press, 2007) and is featured in the new documentary, “The Price of Pleasure: Pornography, Sexuality, and Relationships.” http://thepriceofpleasure.com/
Jensen’s latest book, All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice, will be published in June 2009 by Soft Skull Press. He also is the author of The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege (City Lights, 2005); Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (City Lights, 2004); and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (Peter Lang, 2002).
Jensen can be reached at email@example.com and his articles can be found online at http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/index.html.
by Robert Jensen In a world of spin, no one expects truth from corporate executives or the politicians who serve them, but many of us...
by Robert Jensen [Remarks to the first in a series of “Last Sunday” community gatherings in Austin, TX, November 26, 2006.] ...
by Robert Jensen Ever since the movie “Fargo” came out a decade ago, my ability to mimic the Scandinavian-inflected accent of my hometown...
by Robert Jensen [Remarks to the second “Last Sunday” community gathering in Austin, TX, December 29, 2006. ...
by Robert Jensen At a progressive media reform conference dedicated to resisting corporate control of mass media, where many of the...
Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites