Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Women's Review of Books

Christine at ms. musings (another excellent feminist blog on culture) reports that Women's Review of Books will be back in January. I'm glad to hear that. I miss its intelligence and erudition.

In recent years many feminist publications have ceased to exist. The main reason is probably in the fact that the mainstream sources have included some of the arguments that feminists have made and that the coverage of women's issues and women in general has increased from what it was thirty years ago. (Though it's still possible for Umberto Eco to write books in which women don't exist, much, and to have them generously praised. Ehem.).

The alternative explanation for the death of feminist presses and magazines is that the Second Wave of feminism is over and that we are now living in the Backlash Years. Such years have always followed a feminist surge in history, and today is no different. Both my explanations are probably true: the world is a little bit fairer to women and feminism is now a four-letter word. So.

"I'm not a feminist, but..." is the new flavor of the month, both here in the U.S. and in Europe. The trick is to call feminism something else, like womanism or humanism, and to hope that nobody catches on that you're really defending the equal rights of women. Because if you get caught you will be doomed to an eternity of armpit hair, combat boots and nobody ever loving you again. This is a sad commentary on how far we still have to go, isn't it?

In any case, magazines like the Women's Review of Books are still needed. The mainstream literary magazines are not going to publish a feminist article more than once a year, at most, if even that, and then they are going to seek balance by publishing four or five or seven articles condemning political correctness. For this reason it is refreshing and restful to read something that is wholly dedicated to feminism, even if the arguments with anti-feminists are replaced by bickerings between types of feminists. It is a way of learning, of honing ones own ideas and of adopting new ones.

If you fancy doing that, make sure to subscribe to the Review as well as other feminist magazines.