Prosecco Think Tank: Claire Ryder hosts her New Year PTT In Philly
We had our first Prosecco Think Tank of the New Year on Saturday. The more of these PTTs I attend, the harder it is for me to connect with women outside of them. What I mean by this isn’t that I can’t build relationships with women except in these few hours every month but that when I interact with women who are “feminist deniers” (to use the phrase of one of the women today) I feel disconnected from them. In the past I’ve been able to build friendships with women who don’t view the world from a feminist perspective. I still have some of these friendships left over from that time but they feel superficial and shallow. I don’t know how to connect deeply with women who are still blind to the struggles of women at large—and blind to their own struggles.
In my rational mind, I think that it would be good to befriend these women so I might be able to help enlighten them. But my experience has been that women who aren’t open to the concept that all women, no matter how privileged, are leading disadvantaged lives, are being intentionally dim. They don’t want to know or acknowledge this fact because first of all, it’s painful and second of all, if they recognize the problem they might feel the need to fix it and that’s hard work.
My father once said to me, “it is easier to wake someone who is sleeping than to wake someone who is pretending to be sleeping” which is an extension of the Navajo proverb you can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep. Sometimes these proverbs hit the truth so hard. So m any women have started to explore feminism in the last year or two, triggered by world events. I have had the pleasure of sharing what I’ve already learned with many women who two years ago wouldn’t have identified as a feminist. They were sleeping and now they are awake. I am not talking about those women. I am talking about the women who are pretending to be asleep because waking up is hard. I have an almost visceral reaction to these women. If you are not interested in learning, there will always be a gulf between us.
Today’s PTT included women from a range of stages of learning. Some were raised to use terms like feminism, some were raised as feminists without the label, some have started to learn about feminism in the last year or two, and some aren’t ready to identify as feminists but aren’t feminist deniers. We talked about the importance of being open to learning throughout your life—knowing one cannot possibly ever know it all.
One woman shared a powerful story about the moment exactly one year ago when her “bubble popped” after hearing a Black Woman break down the issues of intersectionality within the feminist movement. This lead to an important discussion about the emotional labor that women of color, LGBTQIA women, disabled women, Muslim women, immigrant women, and many other women take on to educate more privileged women. Many people have chosen to make educating others their career—professors, authors, journalists, bloggers, politicians, teachers, etc. It is our responsibility to seek out their work to educate ourselves. It is not fair to expect our Black coworker, for example, to explain institutional racism to us. Just as all women don’t want to have to explain sexism to every man they know. It’s exhausting.
We shared some resources for educating ourselves. I loaned Bell Hooks’ And Ain’t I a Woman and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Why We Should All Be Feminist to one of the women. One woman shared a novel she’s reading called The Power by Naomi Alderman about a world in which girls have developed abilities that make them able to physically dominate men. Another woman recommended Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Women Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Finally, a woman shared her experience of watching First They Killed My Father, the movie produced by Angelina Jolie based on the book by Loung Ung, a Cambodian refugee. I had read the book but I haven’t watched the movie yet.
Donations from this PTT went to the Women’s March on Philadelphia which is next Saturday, January 20, 2018. One of the organizers was at the Prosecco Think Tank and we all stocked up on buttons. Anniversary events are happening all over the world. London will be having a Time’s Up Rally while Women’s March National will be having a Power to the Polls anniversary event in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’ll report back on the Philadelphia event next week. Where ever you are, find an anniversary event!
Article by Claire Ryder
VERVE Operative USA & Humanitarian Activist