The New York Times had an article yesterday about Feminist Camp for teen girls being held in NYC. During this camp, activities like hiking, lanyard making, tennis, and swimming are obviously not on the itinerary. This week long program aims to prepare young women to go out into the world and do more practical feats, like hold epic filibusters or open a feminist vegetarian restaurant called Bloodroot. (This actually exists in southern CT.)
The program leads these teen girls throughout the city to such summer hot spots as the offices of the non-profit Choices in Childhood to hear a lecture from a doula who counsels women having abortions, to Broadway to see actress Holland Taylor in the play "Ann" about former Texas Governor Ann Richards (who, by the way, it is noted in the article these budding feminists had never previously heard of), the Brooklyn Museum's Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, and met with a group of activists from SPARK who seek to end objectification of girls and women in pop culture.
Now, while all of that does sound very......enriching, it doesn't seem very fun. Does it make me an anti-feminist to admit that I would rather be spending my summer at the beach-wearing an objectifying bikini?
I think this is the problem with feminism-it tends to take itself so seriously.
And it shouldn't. That's part of the charm that I perceive with many gay rights activist, there is a tongue in cheek sense of humor and a sparkling trail of glitter to all their efforts. But many feminists approach everything with this somber intensity. Maybe it is the fallout from the fatigue and frustration of years of suffering and fighting for equal rights. But why do feminists get such a bad rep as exaggerated caricatures? Probably for exactly this reason. Seriously, what teenage girl wants to spend a hot, beautiful summer day in a museum looking at feminist art followed by intense discussion and debate? And kudos to the seven girls enrolled in this camp.
I guess we have to question what makes a feminist. I absolutely am a feminist and in my definition, a feminist is any woman who thinks herself to be an equal and who challenges herself and those around her to make the world a better place-not just for other women, but for everyone. Like Hilary Clinton. Tina Fey.....So by this definition, do we really need Feminist Camp to prep the young female minds of tomorrow or is this camp encouraging young women to yes, become activists, but ones who think to be taken seriously they must take themselves far too seriously.
The young women enrolled in this camp feel this experience is very important because, as they explained to The Times, they feel that women's rights have taken a back seat to gay rights. (Must be that glitter.) One young woman was quoted as explaining, "I have friends who are very religious and they’re pro-gay, but not pro-choice." The feminist campers feel this program offers them a valuable forum to learn how to become a strong female voice in gender issues. Ok. But if you are going to Feminist Camp, like this concerned, young Wendy Davis wannabe, chances are, you already are a raging feminist! So, yes, maybe we do need Feminist Camp, because I do love that we are prepping the next generation of Hilary Clintons, but, I propose it should be attended by young, male republicans. I think that's what would really help with the feminist cause in the future.