On July 5, 2012, TheNation.com hosted a live chat on the future of feminist activism with Nation blogger Jessica Valenti, Jezebel.com founding editor Anna Holmes and reproductive justice activist Aimee Thorne-Thomsen. Readers submitted over one hundred questions and comments on topics ranging from mainstream feminist organizations to intersectionality to the "personhood" movement. An edited transcript of the chat is available below. You can also read a replay of the chat here.
Sarah Arnold: Hi everyone, this is Sarah, your moderator. Welcome to our chat! We’ll get started in five minutes. In the meantime, readers, you can begin to submit your questions. I’ll start pulling them in about fifteen minutes into the chat. Anna and Jessica, once you’re here, pop in and introduce yourselves.
Anna Holmes: Hi, this is Anna. Happy to be here—thanks for the invitation.
Jessica Valenti: Hey everyone—thanks for joining! Jessica here, feminist writer/online activist.
Aimee Thorne-Thomsen: Hello everyone, this is Aimee. Excited to be here!
Sarah Arnold: Great, thanks everyone! Could you each just say a word or two about your most recent work and what brings you to this conversation?
Jessica Valenti: For sure. In the past, my work was largely focused on trying to make feminism more accessible to younger women, through Feministing and my books, especially. What I’m interested in right now, though, is how we can use some of the lessons we’ve learned doing online organizing and outreach to create a more forward-thinking, proactive, intersectional feminist movement.
Aimee Thorne-Thomsen: My work has mostly focused on working with young people, particularly young people of color on reproductive health, rights and justice issues. Currently I work at Advocates for Youth, a national sexual and reproductive health organization as the VP for Strategic Partnerships.
Anna Holmes: I’m a writer and editor (freelance). Former editor/founder of Jezebel. My background is more in media than grassroots feminist activism. As a writer and editor, I like to focus on the intersection of politics and pop culture, and I’m especially interested in using critiques of culture to highlight issues of gender politics and to use culture as a "gateway drug" of sorts to getting younger women more interested in feminism.
Aimee Thorne-Thomsen: As for why I am excited about this conversation, I think there is a lot of overlap between the work of the feminist movements and that of the reproductive health, rights and justice movements that I think we should be in more conversation with each other.
Jessica Valenti: Yay for feminist gateway drugs!
Sarah Arnold: Thanks everyone! To get us started, what are some of the more exciting examples of feminist activism that you’ve seen lately, whether in terms of pushing for political or cultural changes?
Jessica Valenti: I think the activism happening online has been really exciting—whether you’re talking more broadly about blogs starting to democratize who gets to speak for feminism, or the more specific wins like what happened with Komen. So I’m really interested in how we can harness some of that energy (and the mainstream media attention) for more lasting and sustainable change. But I also think we need to think about some of the gaps in the activism that catches mainstream media attention. The transvaginal ultrasound stuff, for example, was great but we still have ultrasound laws that make abortions difficult or impossible to get for people who can’t afford the extra money. So we have wins, but they’re not total wins.