Required Reading: Girldrive

I just finished reading the book Girldrive by Nona Willis Aronowitz (who has been an fbomb supporter from the beginning!) and Emma Bee Bernstein, and I must say, everybody who reads this blog HAS to read this book.

Girldrive trailer! from Girldrive on Vimeo.

Essentially, the book is Nona and Emma's road trip diary of the nearly 200 women they interviewed about what matters to them and about the role feminism plays in their lives. Long time friends, and both daughters of Second Wave feminists (Nona's mom is the late Ellen Willis), the two women set out on a post-college, cross-country road trip to really get inside the heads of the women of their generation, and to depict what feminism looks like in our country today.

While some more famous feminists were interviewed, including the awesome Andi Zeisler (co-founder of Bitch Magazine), activist/Chicana feminist Martha Cotera, and even Riot Grrrl Kathleen Hanna, the bulk of the interviews are with "normal" women around the country - stay-at-home moms, blue-collar workers, and college students.

I found all of these interviews incredibly inciteful and moving. Honestly, it got me thinking about how unfair it is that only a chosen few really have a voice, or rather the power to reach others with that voice, when so many people have such valuable things to say. Every single woman in this book, whether they identified as feminists or not, taught me something. I've always found that the best way to reach others, to make them see your perspective and understand your beliefs, is through your story. Nona and Emma realized this too (and also realized the power of visual art and photography in this effort - Emma's photos appear on every page) and for that I am thankful.

Like I said, every woman taught me something, but here are a few that really intrigued me:

Red River Ladies, Fargo: Dena, Emily and Becca work at the only abortion clinic in North Dakota. All identify as feminists and religious. Says Emily, "I was raised Lutheran, and for me it's more about caring for the person and showing love...It's more important that I reach out to people who are struggling and help them in whatever way they choose for themselves."

Carla, Seattle: founder and editor of ROCKRGRL Magazine and a women-in-rock advocate. "I hope women will have a place in rock that's not just a sexy picture licking the neck of a guitar."

Puja, New Orleans: president of Loyola University's on campus group "Bridging the Gap" which promotes awareness of racial and cultural injustices by not "scolding people, but teaching them how to accept others." She doesn't identify as a feminist, stating, "I'm defined as a woman, but that's not all I am. Being Hindu and raised in a Catholic city, Hinduism defines me more than being female."

I wish I could list them all. This book discusses so many topics that have come up on the fbomb in both posts and comments. The intersection of race, class and gender are brought up constantly as is the idea of the effectiveness of labeling oneself as a feminist.

The biggest positive this book had on my life? I've always asked older feminists "but when people tell me we don't need feminism, what do I say?" Nobody ever gave me a clear answer. But this book did. I am now armed with almost 200 personal stories of why feminism matters - and now I can pull them out any time I'm faced with doubt.

You can find Girldrive on Amazon and check out their website (Girldrive is also a blog!)

More articles in WMC FBomb by Category: Feminism, Media
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Julie Zeilinger
Founding Editor of The WMC FBomb
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