The wasteland?

By Jane Lane

A question I posed to the Feminist Advisory Board 4 Obama group.

Twitter has been a great place to visit where I can meet other feminists, but I wouldn’t want to have to communicate in 140 character messages all the time!

I need to talk about the importance of place. And practice. And sustenance for feminists no matter where we are located geographically.

I have a quiet farmhouse to live in where I can do the practice part MadamaAmbi mentioned. It happens to be in a very “red” part of what was a “red state.” We few Democrats and feminists were tolerated in
our sparesely populated part of the state during all of the terrible years of the Bush administration and our senator was Marilyn “get a gun and stop gay marriages” Musgrave.

Then, in the last election, our state turned Blue! Hurrah! And a woman Democrat ousted Musgrave.

But the right wingnutty political perspective that is the majority in this area has no intention of settling in and accepting these changes — they’ve become completely unhinged. The state senator representing this area (with his “God-given, Bill of Rights protected right” — as he tweeted — to have guns) and a large
group of other anti-government, private property, protectors of the patriarchy are lining up already to see who is going to unseat our Senator in two years, and are up at the state capitol today engaged in a “tea party” and are talking about the 10th Amendment movement.

So instead of it being easier to live in this environment since the election, it is getting harder. I went to the cafe the other morning to have breakfast and there was a racist Obama cartoon on the bulletin board, so I tore it down and left. I’ve enountered anti-Obama remarks from the bank teller who was waiting on me, at the lumber yard, and at the hospital in a community meeting.

We thought we were moving into a more tolerant world, but are finding ourselves in the middle of the blowback.

So. How much of having a “quiet place to write” (or to have a spiritual life, or a sense of self and center from which to be an activist, or fill in the blank _______) is PLACE and how much is PRACTICE?

Is there a critical mass of wingnuttiness that gathers in a geographical area beyond which a hard core, solid feminist trying to live a quiet but activist life can no longer practice without having to move to a new place?

It is dry out here in rural feminist land. It is arid. It is a hostile environment. I have been online since 1995 building safe virtual places where we can try to nourish each other in our long distance relationships. But we are still not bridging that gap between rural women and feminists, or even rural feminists and feminists.

I’m turning to this new list with an unorthodox request for nourishment and new ideas about how to connect the marginalized rural feminists with the rest of the movement. And, for personal support.

Because one of the big differences that I see between feminism and the tough individualistic type of rural woman we have out here (or the self-promoting Sarah Palin, for example) is that we understand that the personal is political, we do not live in isolation, and we help pull each other up rather than leave each other to fend with our own bootstraps because we are part of a caring movement.

Can we live isolated in hostile places and still maintain our practice?

Is there a way to hold our banners up while keeping our heads down in what feels like permanent hunting season?

Can we build bridges between feminists and rural women that nourish them where they are?

Is there the perfect coffee shop bookstore feminist space somewhere just waiting for us to leave our windy spaces and move into the neighborhood?

“Jane Lane”


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