Amanda: Last March, you sent a video message to our Muse Conference. It was so wonderful to hear you wishing happy birthday to our keynote Myrlie Evers-Williams.
Gloria: Oh I miss her!
A: She went on to tell so many wonderful stories about working with you which leads me to my first question. You make note that academic feminists have taught and students now learn in women’s studies that second wave feminism was about white women only. What can we do to better convey the inclusiveness of feminism?
G: I don’t mean to speak for everyone because it’s a huge and diverse movement, and people have had many different experiences, but in my experience, it was African American women who were disproportionately inventing the movement. They always supported the issues and the movement itself more than white women did. I’ll give you an example. In a very early issue of Ms. Magazine we conducted the first national poll of women on the movement and on women’s issues. It was conducted by Lewis Harris and was a very respectable poll. I am sorry to say that he did not include other women of color, so he didn’t include Latinas, or Asian-American women. The poll did include both white and black women though, and it turned out that white women supported the issues and the movement by about 30% and black women supported the issues and the movement by over 60%.
A: Wow, that is a big difference.
G: Right, but it just makes sense that if you’ve experienced discrimination in one area, you are more likely to recognize it when it comes at you again. Also, black women were more likely to be in the paid labor force and, therefore, experiencing wage and sexual discrimination. It was also black women who brought the first sexual harassment lawsuits. So if you want my honest opinion…
A: Of course, please.
G: In my experience, it was an effort mainly be the media to characterize the movement as mostly white middle class women to diminish the movement.
Hi this is Liz.
Hi Liz, it’s Amanda Stuermer. Thank you for taking this time to muse with me.
Liz: I am sorry it is so short. We’ll do what we can.
Amanda: Yes, it does feel a little bit like a speed date.
Liz: Ha, that’s cute.
Amanda: Several people think I am interviewing Melissa Gilbert today. I wish I had a Little House on the Prairie questions for you! We’ll stick with Liz Gilbert. Let’s start with our speed date questions. What two words best describe you?
Liz: Stubborn and high strung.
Amanda: What trait do you most cherish in yourself?
Amanda: What trait do you most cherish in others?
Q: What exactly is a Muse?
A: According to Webster’s, muse is either a source of inspiration or thinking or saying something in a meaningful way. I usually think of a muse as a noun, as someone who inspires us in a meaningful way, but lately I have been much more intrigued by muse as a verb. I believe when we muse on something – an issue, an idea – we allow ourself to ask questions. I believe answers only come when we are brave enough to ask the tough questions. We are at a point in human history where we have some big questions to ask. That leads me back Muse as a noun; we need people who can inspire us to ask the big questions. Muses inspire us to muse.