Are You the Next Feminist Icon?
posted by Sheri

Two articles today address the recent losses of three great women: Coretta Scott King, Wendy Wasserstein, and Betty Friedan and the impact of such losses on women's activism.

In "Losing Our Feminist Leaders" over at Alternet.org, Jessica Valenti asks if we need a new feminist icon to keep the feminist movement moving forward.

Is it that a successful women's movement simply doesn't need icons anymore, or are they out there just waiting to be recognized by a mainstream that still doesn't take kindly to feminism?

And then, beautifully quoting King:

Moving forward, it sometimes pays to look back. King once said, "Struggle is a neverending process. Freedom is never really won; you earn it and win it in every generation."

So if this is true, what gains, however small, are we to fight for and earn in the next generation of feminism? Over at The New York Times, Judith Warner wonders in the "The Parent Trap" whether or not we are even that far ahead of the "feminine mystique" that Betty started talking about in the 1960s. I know this is something I wonder about a lot when I take a look at all of my coupled girlfriends. Once we were smart young radicals, but now we're still smart and fairly young but still doing more of the toilet cleaning. We have so much farther to go in the home, as well as in the workplace.

This is just one indication that the feminist "revolution" that was supposed to profoundly reshape women's lives remains incomplete. Another is the fact that there are no meaningful national policies to make satisfying work and satisfying family life anything but mutually exclusive for most men and women.

What are your thoughts? Does the feminist or mothers movement need an icon to keep it rolling? Do you have someone in mind? Are you volunteering? What can we do today? Or as former President Bill Clinton said at King's funeral services this week, "What really matters if you believe all this stuff we've been saying is, what are we going to do with the rest of our lives?"