My decision to add to this node was actually inspired by the "your radical ideas about ______ have already occurred to others" theme, but because I agree with the spirit of the "So what if your radical ideas have already occurred to others.
" writeups, I decided not to create yet another of those. I grew up in a college town, Ann Arbor
, so I thought I'd make a contribution on the subject.
I realize that a lot of Everythingians are college students, so I hope this writeup is not taken as an attack on studenthood or a broad generalization of all students. One benefit of growing up in a college town is that you get to meet many different people over the years, most of whom are in a period of their life when they are just waking up to the fact that they are in charge of their world and are free to think and act outside of the box their parents created for them.
Unfortunately, this realization often comes without the related awareness of the fact that the individual in question isn't the first person to have had this experience. In particular, when a young student first becomes aware of the serious injustices in the world, they often latch on to one or two of these concerns, and become hostile toward anyone who doesn't appear to care as much as they do about what's going on.
For example, a young woman may come to college, take a course called "Women's Studies", and for the first time in her life come to realize how pervasive and damaging sexism is. Soon, this young woman is quoting Gloria Steinem and Catherine MacKinnon in every conversation, and responds with venom to anyone who suggests something contrary to what she has learned.
I have had innumerable confrontations with young women just like this. It's not that I don't respect her opinion or admire her willingness to re-examine the world from a new perspective, it's just that "her radical ideas about feminism have already occurred to me." More than that, they occurred to me when I was first exposed to them, about 10 years ago. They occurred to me during all the lectures I heard on the subject. They occurred to me through all the books and articles I read on the subject. They occurred to me in the dozens of conversations I had with dozens of different women over the years.
I am not saying that the fact that this information is new to this young woman makes it less important. What I am saying is that some of us may not have the same level of passion about an issue that we first began to explore 10 years ago, but that doesn't mean that we don't care about it; we have just had a whole lot of time to process, evaluate, reconsider and contemplate the ramifications of it. Sometimes the effect of all that assessment, combined with the impact of every other issue and concern that we have been made aware of in that time, dulls our attitude toward the concern that she, at this moment, believes is the absolute most important issue in the world.
I happen to believe that the issue of sexism is very important to be aware of and to work to overcome, and I consider myself a feminist (in spite of the fact that there are many women who don't believe men can be feminists). However, there are many other issues that I am concerned about as well, and I don't agree with a lot of what Steinem and MacKinnon promote. I don't believe this makes me the enemy, and it would be a shame if my ideas and opinions on the subject were dismissed on face value simply because I don't appear to have the same passionate level of interest in it.