I'm Lena Chen, a writer, activist, and media producer who's been called a "skank" (by Bill O'Reilly) and "a small Asian woman" (by The New York Times). My favorite part of my workday is the hate mail.For the unlikely story that is my life, read on.
Coincidentally, I was asked the exact same question at a dinner with undergrads last night, so I’ll just repeat what I told the students then. I don’t believe that any single person or organization can be the arbiter of what “feminism” or “feminist” means. There are some folks, like Sarah Palin, calling themselves feminists while actually working against the interests of women. Some feminists believe gender liberation to be beneficial to all and triumph feminism as one part of social justice at large*; others focus on correcting inequalities and injustices primarily faced by women. And there are also social progressives who shun the label altogether, because they don’t see their identities or communities represented in mainstream feminism and view the big feminist organizations as conformist rather than radical.
I do have a “feminist agenda” so to speak, but at the end of the day, the term honestly isn’t that important to me. Most of the time, it’s just a word that makes it easier to identify my politics. Occasionally, it actually makes that process more difficult, and I find myself correcting a lot of misconceptions. Rather than trying to define feminism and dictate who’s in the club and who’s not, we should focus on concrete social change. Does it really matter whether someone identifies as feminist as long as they’re doing good work?
“Advice for young feminists? Do something else besides feminism. I’m serious. The feminist blogosphere is oversaturated in my opinion. Please, find something else you love and take feminist theory there. It gets lonely over here in tech and video games – I have a great crew of other feminists but we are a little island in a vast sea. We need more feminist minded business bloggers, feminist theory wielding finance bloggers. Labor organizers with a feminist lens blogging. Can you imagine what Deadspin (the sports blog) would look like with a feminist on staff? Restructure writes about science, tech and feminism – join her! Publish a blog doing literary criticism with a feminist lens! Take on the NYT! Talk about class issues and feminism. Whatever it is, apply your feminism in a different space.”
* This is the view with which I most closely identify.
More burning questions? Ask Lena.