Monday, August 13, 2012

Dear Feminists

Dear Feminists,

Melissa McEwan, Jessica Luther, and Garland Grey have launched a new site called Flyover Feminism.

Their mission statement explains the point of the site very well, so I encourage you to read it.

Conventional wisdom suggests that all of the USA's liberal and progressive people live in big cities on the coasts.  If you live in the "heartland" or the "flyover states" or the "Bible belt" or whatever your particular region of the country is called, you'll get comments from people in those big, coastal cities telling you to move.  You'll hear people suggest that your state just secede so that it can be its own conservative mess while the rest of the country progresses.  There are no liberals in that state anyway, right?  It's all a bunch of conservatives or rednecks or Bible-thumpers or uneducated lumps.

There are progressive people in every state.  There are feminists in every state.  Why don't we all just move to New York or San Francisco or whichever liberal haven you're idealizing?  Maybe because we have families here.  Jobs here.  Friends and roots and ties and paychecks and responsibilities here.

Maybe it's because we realize that turning your back on a problem won't fix it.  Maybe it's because we realize that there aren't enough feminist, progressive voices here and abandoning ship will only make that problem worse, will only leave a bigger dearth for the people we leave behind.  I don't want to make things better for myself alone; I want to make things better for everyone.

When you live in a small town, you know that people with potential often leave.  They're encouraged to go, to seek out bigger places with more opportunities.  The town left behind, however, now lacks the energy and ambition and brilliance of the people who've moved on.  When people with promise head for something bigger and better, the ones they leave behind are only worse off for it.  When people with progressive, feminist ideas head for liberal enclaves, the ones they leave behind hear one less progressive voice and have one less feminist role model.

If I didn't believe that I could make a difference, I wouldn't be a feminist.  If I didn't believe that I could help, I wouldn't have picked up this teaspoon.  Yes, being surrounded by racist, homophobic, religious conservatives is incredibly unpleasant and often makes me want to storm around screaming in people's faces.  But that's precisely why I need the support of my feminist allies.  When you dismiss my state, erase my existence and my effort and my struggle, and suggest that there's no hope for us (no reason to bother, those people are all just a bunch of inbred Bible-thumpers anyway), you've stopped being an ally and started being part of the problem.

If you're prone to dismissing Alabama as too far gone for help or prone to suggesting aloud that Texas just go ahead and secede already, I hope that the work done at Flyover Feminism will change your mind.  If you find yourself left out of the conversations between the big city movers and shakers, please consider submitting a post for Flyover Feminism.  As always, the more voices we hear from, the better.

With love,
Frank Lee

P.S. Flyover Feminism is not for citizens of the USA only!

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