Elevate Difference

Defending Our Dreams: Global Feminist Voices for a New Generation

Identifying as a feminist has never been easy, and being a young feminist is even more difficult. Ever present is the threat of being attacked for failing to acknowledge the efforts our foremothers of the second wave, as well as criticism of those who see young feminists as third wave "fuck-me" feminists, asserting a gender-normative femininity at the expense of coalescing to male-dominated notions of sexuality. What does it mean to call yourself, or in this case, your book, the voice of a new feminist generation? What does it mean to attempt to do this on a global scale? Who is included? Who remains on the margins? One thing it means is you have your work cut out for you. In a world where most college sophomores have the tools to deconstruct one’s work and offer their own post-structuralist critique of who is and isn’t being spoken for, what one has and hasn’t accomplished, a book like Defending Our Dreams: Global Feminist Voices for a New Generation is a daring feat. Wilson, Sengupta and Evans live up to the challenge.

The refreshingly open introduction catches readers, especially those who are young feminists themselves, in its honesty, insight and reflexivity in articulating the authors’ mission and their experiences. While avoiding any sort of rhetoric about an all-encompassing umbrella of sisterhood, Wilson and Sengupta speak of their own hopes, dreams, and inadvertent entry into the leadership of a fledgling international young feminist movement. They are activists who thrive in and rely upon the second homes of the communities of conscience they have formed. They have carved out "spaces in between" for themselves when they have felt intellectually and ideologically displaced. They have maintained these spaces and flourished in them, despite the challenges of time and distance and questions whose answers they are still working through for themselves. They have created a dialogue across borders, a trajectory across identities and issues. And most of all, they have created momentum for a movement that spans these divides.

This collection of essays acknowledges the multiplicities of the lives of young women from across the globe. Issues discussed in Defending our Dreams range from the use and misuse of identity politics to the realities of living with and fighting against racial and gender stereotypes as an Asian adoptee in the U.S. Writers discuss myths about women and the symbolism embedded in them, as well as offering a fictive account of life after the abolition of money and capitalist injustices. The range of vision and voices is both impressive and inspiring, and readers are able to weave a web of women’s experiences from essays that remain accessible while not sacrificing academic merit. Defending our Dreams far surpasses both the pop-culture feminist writing that hopes to sell itself as a new, more stylish version of feminism with a muted call to arms, and the dry, historical accounts of women’s movements that read like an eighth grade text book. This is a book for us, that truly feels as though it is by us, and that we have a community of conscience in which we can thrive.

Written by: Terri Bennett, December 13th 2006

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