Monday, February 27, 2012

Jo Reger's "Everywhere and Nowhere"

Jo Reger is an associate professor of sociology and the director of the Women and Gender studies program at Oakland University in Michigan. She is the editor of Different Wavelengths: Studies of the Contemporary Women's Movement and a co-editor of Identity Work in Social Movements.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Everywhere and Nowhere: Contemporary Feminism in the United States, and reported the following:
From the bottom of page 99 of Everywhere and Nowhere:
The creation of a generation gap made feminist activism seem more difficult. Tadeo, who had been an organizer on the West Coast since she was 13, explained:
I’m tired of the generation gap, personally. I’m tired of not having—[she pauses]—I’m tired having to always make my own way in society. Always having to carve my own path, which is fine, it gives me character. It puts ‘hair on my knees,’ or whatever. … But I wish that I could have an older activist sit by my side and say, “It’s going to be okay.” And [to] talk with them about stuff or have them listen so I can share ideas. Or at least have—have that. And there’s such a division between older feminists and younger feminists because—not just age, it’s the politics primarily.
I think this quote from Tadeo (a pseudonym) is one of my favorite for a lot of reasons. As a young feminist at an East Coast college who does transmasculinity (but prefers to use female pronouns), Tadeo represents the gender, sex and sexual orientation fluidity of contemporary society. Also important is the idea that she was working for social change as a teen, evidence we are not in an apathetic generation, and her identity as a young transmale is of a feminist. However, it is the idea of the generation gap in feminism that is the most meaningful to me in this quote. Feminism has been declared “nowhere” by the dominant society and also by some older feminists who dislike the focus and tactics of a younger generation. Here Tadeo talks about the ramifications of this divide on her desire and ability to make social change. Having grown up on a society forever changed by feminism (i.e. the “everywhere”), Tadeo struggles to find older allies to work with her. Everywhere and Nowhere is meant to open our understandings of multiple generation movements and how social change can be stymied when we act on stereotypes and not realities.
Learn more about Everywhere and Nowhere at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue