This past Wednesday, feminist author and blogger/founder of Feministing, Jessica Valenti, came to JMU and was amazing. I know a few people (in our group) said that it was great, but they didn't feel any more enlightened, but her book, The Purity Myth, goes in more depth and also elucidates some really important points.
It was really inspiring to see a feminist reaching out to a younger generation, informing us while also making us feel like our voices matter. Since I was lucky enough to spend a good portion of the day wit her, I was able to ask her lots of questions to which she gave me satisfying answers. In the midst of this, I realized that there were a lot of questions that she couldn't answer--BIG questions that are part of that on-going feminist struggle. It was kinda cool to realize that we're all in this together--she's fighting the same battles as me and we know the emotional burdens that feminism brings.
Having a very public feminist icon/idol here has made me once again consider the importance of female mentors. Though Jessica has been influential in shaping my feminist paradigm, several of my professors have also done this for me. Julie Caran and Dr. Melissa Aleman were really instrumental in making the whole event happen, encouraging and supporting me in these ventures. Dr. Mary Thompson has also been extremely supportive with Sister Speak. These women have not only helped give me the tools to accomplish these things, but they've supported & encouraged me, while respecting me as an individual. This is something of major importance that is often given lip service, but nothing else. I think we need more older women to start taking some action of their own while also showing younger women that they respect them as individuals, that they respect their ideas, and that they're on the same team in order to bring about some change.
We can do it!