Recently I wrote about a USA Today article that questioned the lasting effects of feminism in the United States. The author, Sharon Jayson, did a poor job at giving voice to young self-identified feminists, and by doing so she reinforced the patriarchal bias that feminism is “unattractive.”
Needless to say the author was inundated with messages on Twitter from feminists around the country, myself included, that decried her myopic perspective. Showing the power of @Twitter, the scores of people who called out Jayson for her lack of insight to what feminism is and who feminists are spurred her to write a second article that focuses on just that. One of the Twitter critics she interviewed was me. Here’s how she opens her second piece with my contribution:
Jaime Puente is a first-year graduate student working on a master’s degree in Mexican-American studies. He’s also a feminist, a blogger and an example of how today’s feminist movement might startle its suffragette ancestors.
“The things I blog about are definitely from a feminist perspective,” says Puente, 29, of the University of Texas in Austin.
Although his parents didn’t use the term “feminism,” Puente says he and his sisters got a clear message. “One of the things my mom was always telling my sisters is ‘You don’t need a man in your life to do anything — to tell you what to do, to support you or provide for you. You can do it all yourself.’ ”
And his family has always worked in the community. “That’s my foundation in feminism,” he says. “Even though they may not have used the words, now that I have the language to describe it and discuss it, that’s what it was.”
Puente is among the faces of a new feminism and is one of those who commented online after a recent USA TODAY story about how feminism has changed since the founding of the National Organization for Women 45 years ago.
He and others who proudly call themselves feminists say feminism today is much more than a gender issue, and their street protests — such as the “SlutWalks” against sexual violence — focus on oppression of all sorts, not just women’s rights.
The problem with this second piece comes just after this where she again marginalizes the power, voice, and influence of feminists in our society.
And while their activism may be below the radar of mainstream America, it is thriving online.
Even while Jayson attempts to give the “other” side of the story, her analysis is patronizing and reductive of the the real influence feminists have. Apparently Jayson doesn’t do very much research prior to publishing her articles. If she did do her research, or just watch something else other than Fox News, Jayson would know that a strong feminist, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is the Secretary of State of the United States of America. (I really don’t know if she watches Fox News but hey if we’re not doing any research…) Call that outside of “mainstream America” but I don’t.
While I appreciate Jayson’s attempt to get a more complete understanding of modern feminism her rendering of its influence is still terribly inadequate. You can read the rest of the article at USAToday.com. After you read it, check back with us and tell us what you think of the article and my contribution.