By Jill Radwin
On Thursday, Oct. 28, students, faculty, and community members gathered at the Nott Memorial to hear well-known author, journalist, and feminist Rebecca Walker speak on “The End of Feminism: Why Feminism as We Know it Must Transform.”
The talk is part of the Presidential Forum on Diversity series. In honor of this year’s 40th anniversary of co-education at Union College, the speaker series is focusing on important women that make us think about diversity issues in different ways. The Forum has been collaborating with the Women’s and Gender Studies Department for all of the programs that they are presenting this year. Walker follows author Awista Ayub, founder of the Afghan Youth Sports Exchange for girls.
Walker, who is both biracial and Jewish, is noted as one of the founders of “Third Wave Feminism,” a branch of feminism which intends to make room for all people. Walker grew up with extremist feminist ideals. Her mother, Alice Walker, author of “The Color Purple,” preached the importance of female independence and the notion that a devotion to raising children stifles women’s livelihood and success.
At the discussion, the author outlined the need to rethink feminism as we know it, hence the new wave, so that it may be a movement founded on equality, rather than superiority. She noted, “In our changing world, every species must be protected, not just half of one.”
She explained that feminism has been unable to successfully traverse generational lines; therefore, it must be adapted. She commented on the benefits of interdependence of women over independence of women, and stressed the importance of partnership as a means of support.
To conclude, Walker summarized nine points about the outdated qualities of feminism, which she explained, need to be reworked. For example, she stated, “I refuse to endorse the political views of someone just because she is a woman.”
Walker concluded that rethinking feminism will help garner more support for the movement and happiness between and among women in general.
In regards to the success of the event, Director of Campus Diversity Gretchel Hathaway noted, “I thought it was great, especially since she stayed until nine speaking with students. She gave so generously of her time.”
Hathaway was impressed by the community turnout for the event, which included members of a local synagogue, a book club, as well as members of The College of Saint Rose.
“I thought that Rebecca Walker was a breath of fresh air in the feminist realm,” Chelsey Cutting ‘11 said. “I found her ideas to be groundbreaking and I believe that is just what we need in the 21st century.”
Walker graduated from Yale University. She has written various books and anthologies on the topics of feminism, gender, and race. Her newest book is entitled, “One Big Happy Family: 18 Writers Talk About Polyamory, Open Adoption, Mixed Marriage, Househusbandry, Single Motherhood, and Other Realities of Truly Modern Love.”
Her essays have appeared in magazines such as Glamour, Real Simple and Child. Time magazine named Walker one of the 50 most influential leaders of her generation.